Built in 1920, the brick building at 153 George Street located in Fitzroy, Melbourne is a modest, one-storey structure that used to house the Federal Trolley and Truck Company, a manufacturing facility for axles and undercarriages for the city’s trams. Recently renovated into a family residence Hong Kong and Melbourne-based architectural studio HOLA PROJECTS they have managed to transform the factory into a family home inspired by the owners’ affinity for early European Modernism.
What distinguishes it from other local industrial facilities, and the reason it has been listed as a heritage property, is its Art Deco-inspired façade which features a stepped parapet adorned by an unusual corbelled brick decoration and the company’s name in slender metal signage. The architects have kept the building’s original brick shell intact including the façade which has been meticulously refurbished, its retro sensibility belying the complete transformation that has taken place inside.
Due to the building’s depth, the interiors were characterized by insufficient daylight, made all the worse by the introduction of an upper floor. The architects have worked around this by inserting three fully glazed internal courtyards that funnel natural light into the rooms around them, allow for natural ventilation, which also provide visual connections across the house. Despite their common functionality, each courtyard serves a different purpose: The entrance court in the front of the building provides a buffer space between the exterior and interior, the central courtyard contains a compact pool around which the common areas unfold, and the kitchen courtyard in the back allows for diffused sunlight in the winter and cool breezes in the summer.