“Engaging With The Essential Elements” – North Melbourne Terrace by Eldridge Anderson
North Melbourne, VIC, Australia
Within a series of tight urban constraints, North Melbourne Terrace is a double volume alteration and addition to the rear of an existing Victorian terrace home that emphasises the essential.
Located in inner-urban North Melbourne, the story behind the like-named North Melbourne Terrace is familiar. The project saw the preservation and restoration of an existing dilapidated period home amended to respond to contemporary living with a better use of site and welcoming of natural light inward. Jeremy Anderson and Scott Eldridge speak to the process of transforming such an icon of its streetscape into a home that responds to the needs of its new owners. “The main influences came from achieving the new spatial requirements and sensibilities of the client, within the inherent constraints of the tight urban context, budget and existing building fabric,” they explain.
Built by Warrick Home Builders and styled by Bek Sheppard, the resulting double volume extension and addition works were about opening up the existing bones. The architects add that “the new additions respond to the existing terrace, whist opening up the enclosed spaces to a generous living volume, light, and a refined structure and material palette.” The project is set within its period frontage, balancing the contextual appreciation of its history and with the needs of its current and future inhabitants. Jeremy says, “the project is set to maintain a modest street profile, yet at the rear the upper level hood extends externally to provide privacy to and from adjacent properties, whist elongating the footprint and directing the outlook to the rear of the site.” This increased utilisation of site was imperative to achieving the clients’ brief.
Like any new built with close neighbouring properties of similar heritage importance, a sensitivity and respectful approach to context was key. North Melbourne Terrace saw challenges of proximity, a new build team and the rundown state of the original house. Jeremy and Scott recall, “the existing dwelling was in a very dilapidated state, the extent of which was not fully revealed until the partial demolition was completed.” A number of strategies were employed to achieve clear sight lines without the need for frosted glass or additional screens. One was “the overall orientation of main areas towards the north where views could be directed over the rear lane towards the sky, and the second was to fold the roof plane down both sides of the upper level to promote an extruded sense of space and shield site lines.” The lower level sliding timber screens allow for control of the eastern side, and the operable perforated panels over the ensuite add a sense of drama internally.
“The main influences came from achieving the new spatial requirements and sensibilities of the client, within the inherent constraints of the tight urban context, budget and existing building fabric.”
Together with the timber panels, the double-glazed windows add a sense of privacy from neighboring properties, and the vertical steel frames allow for the double height volume to open as the combined bathroom, kitchen and living space combined. The approach to materiality, results in a play on privacy and openness, reflecting the amendments to the planning. The architects say, “the material palette has been carefully selected, with external compressed sheet combined with refined steel edges to create a precise and functional enclosure.” Internally, honed bluestone flooring and steelwork combine to further enrich the white internal surfaces.
The restoration, extension and addition work to North Melbourne Terrace link the upper and lower levels and encourage natural northern sunlight deep into the living spaces. “Internally, spaces have been kept open around the perimeter and darker elements toward the back of the space to further enhance the sense of depth within the limited footprint,” Jeremy and Scott say. The emphasis and connection to the landscape show a contemporary sensibility to spatial planning and use of the home vernacular.
Aligned with the vein running through all of Eldridge Anderson’s work, North Melbourne Terrace has respectfully added to the past. As the architects explain, the project “avoids unnecessary features or narratives and engages with the essential elements,” overcoming challenges to create a coherent and refined response.