Intricately Woven – Little Richardson by McMahon and Nerlich
Creatively engaging with the streetscape, and as an exploration in adaptive reuse, Little Richardson offers a playful and rhythmic insertion into its laneway frontage. McMahon and Nerlich draws on a sensory journey to compose the intricately woven home and its deliberate intersection of parts.
Little Richardson sits quintessentially along its Melbourne laneway, its presence inserted as a relief of sorts. Located in Albert Park, amongst many prominent heritage homes, entry is through its own dedicated courtyard space – this intended sense of connection to the outdoors is felt immediately and carries throughout the home. Openings offer a sense of privacy while bridging links between the interior and the external façade, bringing the natural inward. From approach, the façade gives little away and begets a sense of curiosity for what might exist behind the red brick walls. McMahon and Nerlich utilises contrast with a robust and enduring palette to create a unique and unsuspecting residence of its own making
The structure is imagined as a series of sensory engagements, heightened by drama. While the exterior provides the encasing shell, the interior opens generously and feels full of the familiar nods to home, while also carrying its own interesting balance of a refined industrial feel. Built by Matt Benetti, the feeling of open connectedness is expressed most definingly in the cross-over between the living space and the courtyard, where the threshold aims to disappear and the two rooms flow into one. The visual and felt connection beyond the bounding walls was a crucial consideration, both for the passivity of the home and for the wellbeing of its residents.
Sculpturally, the home engages its own laneway corner, seeming unsuspecting and yet fittingly appropriate in its comprising brickwork. The considered response to context ensures the home sits naturally in place and, through careful carvings into the overall form, light enters the interior spaces and allows an increased sense of connection. From the initial interaction with the courtyard, up to the rooftop terrace, the entire footprint of the site is available as outdoor space in some form. The interplay of light with the rich and layered materiality – and how it changes throughout the day – further animates the home. Natural timber then adds a tonal warmth and texture, while clean white and monochromatic elements ensure a continued relevance.