A Family Connection – Darling Street by JCB Architects and Hecker Guthrie
East Melbourne, VIC, Australia
Within the bounding walls of a building linked to its current inhabitants through family ties, Darling Street sees the conversion of a mechanic’s workshop into a well-conceived multi-generational home. JCB Architects collaborates with Hecker Guthrie to propose a progressive and contextually sensitive home for photographer Shannon McGrath.
Nestled into East Melbourne, Darling Street is the repurposing of an existing red-brick mechanic’s workshop. A place of resonance for owner and architectural photographer Shannon McGrath, the building stands as a nostalgic cue to her past, having been her father’s workshop for many years while she was growing up. Shannon and her mother decided to convert the ideally-located piece of history into a shared family home that offers multi-generational living. Together with JCB Architects and Hecker Guthrie, the resulting home delicately sits behind the heritage veiled façade and opens to an intuitively planned pair of apartments.
Built by Danny Rae, Darling Street sensitively captures the spirit of the building’s past while remaining relevant in the present. Each comprising element was an in-depth and collaborative effort, with Shannon’s many years of capturing architecture and interiors as a photographer honing her instinctual understanding and appreciation for materiality and space. Divided into two apartments, one on the lower and one on the upper floor, the plan was for each generation to occupy their own level independently, while having companionable proximity when needed. Integral to the project is the preservation of the character of the original building and the unique patinaed brickwork that stands as testament to its storied past. The solution was to sleeve in behind the original façade and build a volume mimicking an extrusion of the preceding silhouette, and the interiors were to evolve from within that pitched form.
Drawing from her experience as a photographer, access to natural light and curating how it entered the home was vital. Taking advantage of its position, the upper floor opens to a generous outdoor terrace which offers vista views over the surrounding treetops, while the lower floor connects to the adjacent park and its available green space. Lining the interiors is a palette of blonde timber, muted neutrals, dark greys and various textures. The layering of soft linen, wool and leather is contrasted against the grey tactile tiles and custom moss-green floor covering. Connecting the inside with the out and the new to the old is the touch of the handmade. Dotted throughout, the apartments feature custom ceramics, curated artwork and furniture and stand as a collective narrative of Shannon’s appreciation of craft and the arts.
A place of resonance for owner and architectural photographer Shannon McGrath, the building stands as a nostalgic cue to her past, having been her father’s workshop for many years while she was growing up.
Darling Street is a celebration of time and of the unique connection that architecture can generate. JCB Architects together with Hecker Guthrie combine generations both living and built history, and beautifully creates a proposition where the past and new ways of living can co-exist and carefully balance each other’s presence.