Back to the Future – Modo Pento by WOWOWA
St Kilda, VIC, Australia
The owners of this 1960s brown brick walk-up in St Kilda revelled in a smorgasbord of mid-century hors d’oeuvres imagery when working with WOWOWA to craft a joyous interior, which celebrates and extends the design of the era.
Prawn cocktails, ornately rolled cold cuts, jellies and moose tarts formed part of an unusual mood board that allowed for an exploration of texture, colours and shapes throughout the project. Situated on the top level of a three-storey brown brick walk-up, the property was most recently renovated in the early 2000s. That included the addition of a second living space and terrace on the existing concrete roof. This latest renovation required WOWOWA to strip out much of the prior renovation – at odds with the language of the building – and return the apartment to its original condition, amplifying it through modernist timber detailing to create a ‘forever home’ for the clients.
With such a strong original design language, this iteration was imagined as the delicious inside of a 1960s dessert, connecting and lining the existing with amenity and joy. The joinery throughout the project was designed to read like pieces of furniture. Featuring a mix of Australian timbers, including spotted gum solid kitchen benchtops and ironbark and blackwood veneers, the timber sits atop eye-catching brass legs, whilst a Tasmanian oak parquetry floor was installed across the living area and hallway downstairs over a new levelled underfloor.
Consideration was also given to increasing the thermal efficiencies of this stout building. The existing shell was constructed of double brick with concrete slabs separating the levels, with a lightweight construction afforded to the subsequent extension on the roof level. The volumes within the original building benefit greatly from thermal mass, and the addition of double glazing to the existing timber windows helps to increase energy efficiency.
The joinery throughout the project was designed to read like pieces of furniture.
Additional shade is provided in summer thanks to retractable screen blinds, whilst existing fibre-glass ducting was removed and replaced with a new hydro system with a combi-boiler, responsible for all hot water, heating and heated towel rails within the apartment. Low energy LED ceiling lights and a 15-panel solar array have been installed on the roof, bringing the home in line with contemporary energy efficiencies.
The WOWOWA architects contend that they entered into this project because “it transcends its typology whilst remaining true to it, changing your perception of what those old, mostly tired, buildings could become”. Modo Pento certainly succeeds in both reverting and subverting a familiar design ethos, whilst bringing the home in line with the requirements of 21st century life.