Reinvigorating a Brick Terrace – North Fitzroy House by Olaver Architecture
Fitzroy, VIC, Australia

Photography Josh Robenstone
Words Bronwyn Marshall

Welcoming natural light, Fitzroy North House sees Olaver Architecture’s fresh contemporary approach reinvigorate an original brick terrace to create a connected home.

Integral to the fabric of the inner-Melbourne suburbs of Fitzroy and Fitzroy North are the historical workers cottages that line the streets. With connecting or semi-connecting shared walls, the cottages reference the time of the formerly working-class area’s early days. Preservation of these slight and narrow urban buildings has become key to the growing appeal of these areas in the city’s inner north, and interrogating ways that these streetscapes can be preserved, restoring their wearied bones and introducing key design elements to ensure a contemporary relevance has become the challenge of many local architects. Olaver Architecture is well-versed in this task, and North Fitzroy House stands as testament to the modesty with which these interventions can transform the homes for current and future habitation.

Set behind its heritage façade, a discreet approach maintains the continuity of the streetscape, with the majority of the new works for North Fitzroy House occurring at its rear.

Set behind its heritage façade, a discreet approach maintains the continuity of the streetscape, with the majority of the new works for North Fitzroy House occurring at its rear. Optimising its north-facing block, the home is opened at the back to reveal a considered connection to its courtyard and a double height skylight as a transitional space above the dining room, opening to a second story above the living space. This upper floor houses the master bedroom, ensuite, study and patio, and sits above a sunken living space that connects to the home’s courtyard.

The combination of natural materials, where a warm and textured brick floor extends from the living area outward to the courtyard and a timber-detailed wall lines the main corridor extending from the entry door to the rear, creates a tactility within these compact spaces.

Through a combination of natural light and curated materiality, the home is brought together and extended upward. The combination of natural materials, where a warm and textured brick floor extends from the living area outward to the courtyard and a timber-detailed wall lines the main corridor extending from the entry door to the rear, creates a tactility within these compact spaces. Through the addition of other elements that promote sensory engagement, interest is embedded in lieu of additional volumes of space. The introduction of natural light provides a transformational centrepiece from which all daily functions can radiate.

North Fitzroy House stands as testament to the modesty with which these interventions can transform the homes for current and future habitation.

North Fitzroy House sees Olaver Architecture bring a welcomed sensibility to materiality, light and space, creating a home for the future while preserving the historical significance of the original.

With an internal area of just under 150 square metres, several considered sustainable design principles have been incorporated as key to the performance of the home. Hydronic heating is concealed in the concrete slab, with new underfloor insulation provided to the existing timber floor, as well as additional insulation in walls, double-glazed windows, solar panels, solar hot water, and ceiling fans in all bedrooms to enhance air flow. The new extension allows the existing home to provide for its current custodians and embraces technology and advanced design principles developed in the time since the home was originally built.

North Fitzroy House sees Olaver Architecture bring a welcomed sensibility to materiality, light and space, creating a home for the future while preserving the historical significance of the original.

Published 10 December, 2019
Photography  Josh Robenstone
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