The house is a Victorian heritage terrace with a lean-to structure at the rear. The renovation kept the heritage front façade whilst rebuilding the rest of the house to suit the client’s lifestyle.
The client is a librarian with a passion for baking and looking after her cat, Dot. She wishes to have a house with charm and character, that is also quiet, simple, understated, calm, and modest. A home that is not just a sanctuary for her to return to after a busy day but also a comfortable home for her cat.
The new addition is recessed more than 3m from the front heritage façade. The portion that is visible from Coleman Street appears as a frame of the interior space. This introduces new building elements without interrupting the façade rhythm of the street. The reinstated elements of the original house such as the front porch retain the identity of the heritage place.
From the rear laneway, the parapet and verandah awning profile emphasise the continuation of the original pitch roof form, carrying the physical essence of the original house through to the new building fabric. This can be seen through both the internal cathedral ceiling and the verandah awning. The circular window awning adds an irregularity to the contemporary interpretation of the heritage place, creating a point of interest, but most importantly providing a porthole out to the world for the ‘Queen of the Castle’ – the cat Dot.
The materiality and colour palette aims to create a contrast to Fitzroy messiness and richness of the urban texture while relating to the scale of the adjoining properties. This was achieved through a black and white colour palette, horizontal weatherboards boards and vertical Mini Orb corrugated cladding.
Fragments of the owner’s story are framed by the timber shelves along the corridor and in the living room. These were designed to create frames for knick-knacks and books that the owner collected over time. The black rectangular feature light fitting over the kitchen bench frames the various window shapes which contain portions of the external environment such as the sky, buildings and vegetation.
The texture of the urban fabric is brought to the interior spaces through the introduction of the concrete tiles in the shower, formed concrete basin and concrete benchtop in the kitchen and the living area. The hardness and roughness of concrete are then contrasted and soften with the abundance of light timber on the floor and joinery.