An Open Embrace – Brighton House by FIGR

Words by Bronwyn Marshall
Architecture by FIGR
Photography by Tom Blachford
Interior Design by FIGR
Styling by Ruth Welsby

Interpreted through a sensitive lens, Brighton House expands on the previous narrative of the heritage home to accommodate the changing needs of its current inhabitants. FIGR draws musings from the original details to propose an addition that opens and embraces the surrounds as an extension of the home.

With a considered approach to what was preserved and what was proposed, the owners of Brighton House wanted to feel both ingrained into the final resolve and responsible for it at the same time. Located in its namesake suburb of Brighton in bayside Melbourne, the familiar family home retains the essence of its Edwardian origins. Instead of removing from its past, the new aims to add to the existing through a layered and texturally warm approach. The original timber encasing façade is extended to sleeve the new, while a warm approach is brought internally to contrast the exterior approach. FIGR focuses on the experience of the home. By opening and creating connected places to convene, the existing building is embedded with a refreshing relevance.

The original timber encasing façade is extended to sleeve the new, while a warm approach is brought internally to contrast the exterior approach.

Built by Shape Building and with landscape design by MUD Office, the entire extents of the home act as a collective whole. The landscape plays a vital role in both how the home feels and how it functions, with curated views outward and places to gather amongst the more natural elements. Originally extended in the 1990s by architect John Cuthbert, the addition at the time aimed to capture changed living conditions and the needs of a growing family. The latest iteration then builds on these original intentions.

Approaching yet another life stage, the owners wanted to prepare the home for their retirement period, allowing for visiting family and for the home to expand and contract as needed, yet still retain its sense of familiarity. A reworking of the existing plan allows for a more open approach internally and connects otherwise disparate rooms. A cohesive approach brings a sense of clarity to the planning, while movement through the home is directed toward the open living area and then out to the garden spaces. Double glazing replaces existing windows and openings, both for thermal performance and acoustics, and the use of Australian-sourced hardwood then injects a much-welcomed warmth. Combined with a more muted palette of neutral tones, the timber and its textural depth are highlighted, and a balance is achieved.

Combined with a more muted palette of neutral tones, the timber and its textural depth are highlighted, and a balance is achieved.

Retaining its original charm and character, both the envelope and identity of Brighton House are extended. In the process, the home is made the more relevant, an enduring place for family life to flourish in years to come.