An Interplay of Levels – Escher House by Inbetween Architecture
A renovation and extension to an interwar cottage, Escher House takes its name from the inventive, often surreal play on space conceived by artist M.C Escher. Inbetween Architecture brings a contemporary relevance to this significant period home, celebrating the existing details and bringing together the old with a new elevated refinement.
Neatly situated in the unique heritage Hassett Estate of Canterbury, Escher House stands as an important contributor to the area’s interwar historical architecture. Originally built in the 1930s, the home is an interesting and rare survivor of the time, and ensuring its preservation was integral to the new works. As a renovation and extension effort, Escher House becomes a celebration of time and crafted details, highlighting the past and allowing the contemporary elements to sit harmoniously alongside the old. Navigating its site over multiple levels, the home becomes a series of spaces that take the owner and visitor on a journey, as they each meander through the house. Its namesake is then inspired by the famous works of artist M.C. Escher and his interplay with varying level changes and the expression of the stair as the transitionary element. Inbetween Architecture injects a contemporary sensibility, opening up and extending the existing home to align with a contemporary and comfortable lived brief.
Built by Scale Constructions, with structural engineering by Structural Edge and landscaping by Sam Cox Landscaping, Escher House sees an efficient and considered floorplan crafted for its client. Having experience living in dense urban parts of Asia, the clients were well versed in living with smaller spaces and knowing how to make them work functionally as a family. The renovation retains and restores the existing front portion of the home, while replacing and extending the rear, allowing for a preservation of the home’s character while also offering a mix of the old and new. As a means to connect to its site, the lower portion of the home houses the shared kitchen, meals, bathroom, laundry, home office and master bedroom suite areas and creates an on-level transition to the rear yard.
Constructed from painted brick, the new extension is intended to sit alongside the front, similar in form, detail and geometric approach, while still evidencing its own nuanced differences. The bringing of the two eras together sees a seamless timber flooring bind the spaces, while openings are introduced to optimise natural ventilation and desired solar gains throughout the day. A palette of natural timbers and muted colourings add a softness and increase the perception of internal volume within the structured and formal spaces.
Inbetween Architecture sensitively extends a well-lived home and injects cleverly concealed elements to increase amenity and support the young family. Escher House plays with levels and expresses the subtle vertical planes, and as a result, neatly hugs and anchors to its site in its own modest way.