Past and Present – Milford House by Rosstang Architects
Port Phillip Bay, VIC, Australia

Photography Sharyn Cairns
Words Bronwyn Marshall

Breathing new life into this 1890s Port Phillip Bay Italianate Victorian home, Milford House sees Rosstang Architects infuse a considered contemporary approach into a unique historic context.

Seeking to revitalise an existing and beloved heritage building, Milford House was born from a desire to connect Milford House to the present, both in time and in design. Originally built and designed in the 1890s, this Italianate Victorian home was still endowed with its original features, but, as time passed, its elements became less practical and it needed an overhaul to bring it into the present. Rosstang Architects was engaged to rework the kitchen, dining, butler’s pantry, bathroom and laundry areas. In particular, the kitchen was originally a commercial kitchen, with outdated and contextually inappropriate appliances and large, dominating fixtures in ill-considered locations. The design process involved interrogating the original plans, with the new format injecting life back into these spaces while also maintaining or reassembling existing features.

Seeking to revitalise an existing and beloved heritage building, Milford House was born from a desire to connect Milford House to the present, both in time and in design.

The design process involved interrogating the original plans, with the new format injecting life back into these spaces while also maintaining or reassembling existing features.

Opening up the spaces within the home and increasing connections between zones allowed for new openings to be carved out – carefully placed to connect to the adjacent garden elements and encourage natural light to enter the internal spaces.

Sitting within the unique, heritage-listed façade, the project saw the removal of a number of small rooms and spaces that, though important in the 19th century, were no longer necessary in a contemporary home. Opening up these spaces and increasing connections between zones allowed for new openings to be carved out – carefully placed to connect to the adjacent garden and encourage natural light to enter the internal spaces. A connection to the natural elements surrounding the building was originally non-existent and became a major focus of the renovation.

The design process involved interrogating the original plans, with the new format injecting life back into these spaces while also maintaining or reassembling existing features.

The approach to materiality and finishes was to imbed a sense of appropriateness, and an enduring timelessness.

The highly detailed home was once owned by a merchant, who used the tower to look out over the bay, watching for incoming vessels transporting barrels of rum. This and many other antiquated but unique features were retained in the new design, restored and repaired to increase their lifespan. The approach to materiality aimed to imbed a sense of appropriateness and an enduring timelessness. The use of limestone, custom wallpaper, full-height steel glazing, and v-groove joinery invigorate the traditional elements with a sense of the contemporary. The contrast between the old, heavy masonry elements and the new, light elements form a gentle but welcoming balance.

Milford House is an exercise in considered restraint and a deliberate consideration of context.

Milford House is an exercise in considered restraint and a deliberate consideration of context. Through the reinvigoration of the heritage elements and the opening of the spaces within the building, Rosstang Architects gives this stunning heritage home a new life. By connecting the building’s unique 19th century character to functional contemporary design, Milford House will continue to be a part of history for many years to come.

Tlp Milford House Ross Tang Architects 08
Published 5 May, 2020
Photography  Sharyn Cairns
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