Embracing a Colourful Past - Rose Street Residence by Fieldwork Architects
Fitzroy, VIC, Australia
A playful and practical home, Rose Street Residence by Fieldwork Architects honours the history of the house by embracing, rather than erasing, its colourful past.
It is not every day that a brief requires transforming a working brothel into a home, but with the Rose Street Residence, this is precisely what Fieldwork Architects were asked to achieve. When the team at Fieldwork began the project, they decided to embrace, rather than erase, the former life of the building.
With this decision as the foundation of the project, inspiration was taken from the existing materials and colour schemes and injected into the new interior. As Fieldwork director Quino Holland explains, “despite the interiors being seedy and squalid, there were punctuated moments of beauty and an interesting combination of materials, such as a brass trim above a bright pink wall feature.”
Salvaged neon lighting, brass and gold details, punctuated pink hues, and rich, dark furnishings all feature throughout the space. Each of the design elements were carefully considered to resonate with the home’s past while contributing to a practical and contemporary home. Quino says, “It was important to choose materials that were practical but which would also age gracefully. The brass for the kitchen benches was only lightly waxed, intentionally, allowing it to patina over time. Every imprint and scratch, telling a different story.”
The only portion of the original building to remain was the front room, both upstairs and down. The rest of the building is a new addition, creating a meeting point at the intersection of old and new, from the curved joinery kitchen with brass benches and herringbone flooring to the opulent green velvet curtains and opaque staircase.
Like most terrace homes, the priority was to bring light into the centre of the space. This was achieved by integrating a skylight over the staircase to the east and adding a one-metre setback to the west. The addition of textured glazing on the staircase let the northern light into the kitchen and front living space. A pink neon light illuminates the stairwell and continues up the stairs, casting a blush hue through the upstairs rooms.
The site was opened by creating a central courtyard, a sanctuary of verdant foliage that connects the rear building to the main. Quino describes that, “by day, the outdoor space is a bright, green oasis. By night, the building’s colourful past is highlighted playfully, with the use of a combination of red neon and pink LED lights.”
The project wasn’t without its own set of unique challenges. “The task of creating a home from the layout, which originally had showers in every room, roman columns, mirrored ceilings and spa baths, was complex,” Quino reveals.
The result is a remarkable transformation. The retained historic facade and seamlessly integrated contemporary addition, including subtle nods to the former life of the house, has created a lively home that is as vibrant as its history.