Choreographed journey
Friday 03 Aug 2012


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The brief for the renovation of this boom style double fronted Victorian home in Melbourne originally called for full demolition. However, upon witnessing the possibilities of the existing dwelling the client was encouraged to retain & restore the front section with the potential that it could enable the project as a whole to provoke a richer response when co-aligned with a newer intervention.

The end result follows a story of 2 pavilions separate yet connected - at the front the restoration of the existing grander section of the Victorian building and at the rear a new contemporary double storey addition. Both are seemingly separate yet connected via a metaphorical bridge that traverses the courtyard area - acting as a powerful interstitial space mediating the two buildings and history. Material, colour &detail variation are utilised in combination with the courtyard strategy to exaggerate the settings &the temporal division of the pavilions. Architecturally the front building is restored in a clean yet typically Victorian detailing.

The grandeur of the existing building is immediately obvious upon entering  lofty heights, boom style mouldings &fittings, historic fireplaces. Tonal paint finishes are utilised along with dark stained oak floorboards in a more formal use of material and colour. The journey from the front door through the main axis to the rear of the site sets up a series of delayed thresholds and framed scenes. Beyond the existing building one enters through the sculptural timber form of the new building. Within the main hallway still, the space compresses again before exhaling completely to reveal the openness and expanse of the rear Living areas. Long runs of concealable glazing to either side dissolve the ground level facade and allow flexibility to open up to the outdoors, providing full viewing of external garden/pool areas. A restrained yet relaxed mix of material, colour & detail is utilised to provide a point of difference with the formality of the front. Natural materials and finishes are utilised - Burnished concrete floor, Ash cladding, basalt, limed oak joinery, linen curtains, carrara marble -against the crispness of white and black, making up the more relaxed, contemporary and comfort driven approach.

As opposed to other dwellings within this context where important references of Australian /Victorian heritage may be obliterated without intervention this interior utilises and exploits the juxtaposition to heighten and delight in the difference whilst following sustainable methods that encourage retention and re-use over demolition.

Matt Gibson Architecture + Design

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