Engulfed in the Garden – Mount Stuart Greenhouse by Bence Mulcahy
Mount Stuart, TAS, Australia
Mount Stuart Greenhouse sees Bence Mulcahy replace a failing 1980s extension to the original turn-of-the-century home with a new glasshouse addition.
The 1900s period home, named Culverden, is revitalised through the new glasshouse, which seeks to engulf its clients in their garden. Referencing the original Federation Italianate architecture and accompanying landscape, the Greenhouse becomes the binding conduit between the inside and outside. The expansive reconfiguration sees a carefully considered approach to integrating the old and new take place, with the new addition sharing the same sandstone base as the original home. A new kitchen and dining area have been added, with additional renovation works to the existing ground-floor bathroom, master ensuite and walk-in-robe also completed. Bence Mulcahy brings a studied sensibility to the new works, delicately weaving the new program amongst the existing.
Located in Tasmania’s Mount Stuart, the original home is typical of its era with distinct entry features, asymmetry and detailed ironwork throughout. The new works see a garden conservatory-like structure created, which acts as a reveal at the end of a journey through the internal space. The resulting structure complements the formality of the original home, while acting as the transitionary threshold between the inside and the landscape. The lightness of the glazed addition, framed by custom steel work, exists in contrast to the existing heavy wrought iron and brickwork, offering a respite in form, while also adding cover and amenity.
Built by Farquhar Constructions, the new works continue upward to the master bedroom, housing the additional ensuite and walk-in robe. On the lower level, the glass and steelwork acts as a sheath around the kitchen and dining areas, set outward, enabling the glazed façade to be uninterrupted by joinery. The kitchen sits underneath the existing soffit and brings a warm timber element to the space, connecting the joinery to the flooring, and then back to the original bones of the home. Craft and an attention to detail highlight a connection to the home’s period features and help to blur the lines between old and new.
Mount Stuart Greenhouse sees a series of raw, honest and handmade material elements come together to age and patina over time and be expressed as an appropriate addition to this distinct period home. Bringing together trades and craftspeople (an industrial blacksmith, a heritage plasterer, metal worker, and ceramicist, amongst others), Bence Mulcahy injects a new foundation for the continuing program of the contemporary within this heritage home, detailed with a nuanced sophistication that speaks to a true appreciation of context.