Strategic moves to improve – Melbourne

The owners of Newry House, a family of four, wanted to renovate their single-fronted terrace home in inner-city Melbourne, on a tight budget. The house had been previously renovated in the 90s, but the two storey addition at the back failed to address the primary issue common in terraces of this era, a lack of light. The owners asked Austin Maynard Architects to reconfigure their living zone to allow in sunlight and make better use of their limited space. The ‘90s addition was structurally sound. The bathroom and laundry at the rear were neat and functional. To demolish, simply because it wasn’t in the ideal location, would have been wasteful. Instead, discipline was required to work with what was already there, implementing strategic moves to solve and improve.
Apart from new carpets and joinery in all three bedrooms, the front and the back parts of the house remain largely untouched. The ‘rotten’ middle section of the house was gutted, including the old timber floor, replaced by a thermally efficient, hydronically heated, concrete slab. A wall that once separated the kitchen from the small dark dining room was also removed, opening up the kitchen/living-dining space. The ceiling, and above it a leaky roof deck outside the main bedroom, was also demolished and a large pitched glass roof with sliding awnings installed.
Part of the client brief was to not build bigger but to design better. Their old kitchen had a huge amount of wasted space. The space was compact and so the staircase, kitchen, and storage are all combined into one object. A merging of perforated steel and blackbutt timber, concealing doors, drawers, and cupboards. In the centre a beautiful Studio Italia bench provides further storage. The exposed garden has been integrated into a bench seat, optimising space in the dining area.
The fundamental concern with most terrace houses is a lack of natural light.
In a space that is already tight, the question was, why take away indoor space to capture outdoor space? Instead, we focused on the conservatory idea; a glasshouse that brings the outdoors inside, with responsive sliding shade awnings to shield from too much sun. In seconds the raised shading can be remotely closed, to provide almost 100% protection from UV rays.
The home’s modest palate is dashed with colour that pops and converses throughout the whole house. The perforated steel staircase – bright white but for a surprise twist of vivid green at the top is a nod to the green of the garden and the bench seat. The rich burgundy Tretford carpet in the entrance hall balanced by the sofa in the living room.
Sustainability is always at the core of Austin Maynard Architects’ work. At Newry, windows and doors have been re-fitted with thermally separated double glazing. Drafty timber floorboards have been replaced with hydronic heated concrete.

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