Accentuating Connection – Neville Street Residence by APC Build, Doherty Design Studio and Chan Architecture
Doherty Design Studio, Chan Architecture and APC Build have harnessed a collaborative approach to transform a site’s potential shortfalls into enviable defining features. Conceived as an extension to a single-fronted Victorian terrace in Melbourne’s bayside suburb of Middle Park, this project illustrates how considered orientation, materiality and clever spatial planning can enhance liveability and accentuate connection.
As is typical for renovations to heritage buildings, the façade, front two bedrooms and hallway have all been retained and restored, while the extension and the addition of a second storey are set back from the street to minimise visibility from the front. As Anthony Chan from Chan Architecture says, “the team embraced a collaborative approach in maximising space and natural light at the rear to achieve a lot within the confines of the small lot size.” He adds, “this deep consideration for space and natural light was the guiding principle in achieving openness and connection, as were a few key material selections.” A durable and tactile palette of materials runs consistently throughout the home, with “pops of steely blues in the kitchen and living areas and soft greens in the bathrooms,” Phoebe Lipscombe of Doherty Design Studio says.
The collaborative strength between the architect and interior designer is clear for this project; the interiority works with, not against, the building envelope, enhancing the architecture through its very presence, while the form guides the internal experience through a deeply considered response to context. However, a project cannot be truly holistic without a consideration for all elements of its lifecycle, thus, this same synergy existed between the architect, the interior designer, and the builder.
As a complex project, APC Build’s involvement early in the design phase proved crucial in achieving a highly efficient timeline and budget and, in turn, a cohesive and thoughtful design. “Chan Architecture engaged us to provide cost estimates and buildability advice at the concept and town planning phases of the design and then again as the working drawings and interior drawings were refined,” says Peter Lo Bartolo, Managing Director of APC Build. As he explains, this approach meant the design was informed by the clients’ budget and therefore “the client could be decisive in how they were investing their money in the build.” Resultingly, no time was wasted in heavy tender, value management or redesign, and the team enjoyed a smooth and enjoyable process, allowing them to focus on high quality execution and detail.
“We loved the idea that light – and also the vertical nature of the panelling – would encourage people to look up, thus punctuating the connection between the ground and first floors.”
This collaborative effort to deliver a project with an emphasis on artisanship is neatly illustrated in the rear extension. Reflecting on the layout, Phoebe says the open-plan kitchen, dining and living space “had to deliver quite a lot within a relatively small footprint,” adding that “the spaces not only needed to be aesthetically interesting, but they also had to function for a young family.” A U-shaped kitchen is tucked into the building and overlooks the backyard; the benchtop sweeps around in an organic motion, encouraging circulation and creating space for stools. This clever design works in harmony with the architecture; it carves out intimate pockets within an open and connected space and allows for a generously sized living and dining area too.
The location of the stairs on the opposite wall is both an aesthetic and functional feature. “We wanted to embrace a level of translucency in this area to help make the space feel as big as possible and create cross pollination of light between the spaces,” Phoebe says. “To do this, we introduced perforated metal to the stair and first floor balustrades.” The sculptural stair also explores the concept of translucency through powder coated steelwork and open timber treads. To bring a variant of depth to this space without making it feel heavy, Doherty Design Studio introduced colour and rich materiality. “We felt a bold gesture was needed for the wall behind the staircase, so we opted for blue painted V-groove wall panelling,” Phoebe explains. “We loved the idea that light – and also the vertical nature of the panelling – would encourage people to look up, thus punctuating the connection between the ground and first floors.”
The space beneath the stairs houses a custom wall-mounted unit with perforated metal doors. “In raising this off the ground we were able to maintain that feeling of generosity of space, whilst also providing the practicalities and requirements of a family with young kids.” The joinery throughout is, in many ways, rudimentary and elemental yet warm with interest and intrigue brought through a cohesive approach. “We adopted quite a simple language when it came to the joinery design and instead opted to introduce graphic elements, such as a charcoal grout and square mosaic tiles to the kitchen splashback, black handles on white joinery and V-groove panelling, to create a sense of balance,” Phoebe explains.
While applied at the minute scale of joinery, in fact, this pared-back approach epitomises the design of the entire home. It is cleverly put together, driven by an understanding between architect, interior designer and builder. Here, the eye is constantly satiated by complementary forms and blocks of colour as opposed to opulence and noise, allowing the form and a few select details to carry the internal experience.