Repurposing the Past – Solid House by Coy Yiontis Architects
Elsternwick, VIC, Australia

Photography Peter Clarke
Words Bronwyn Marshall

Working within the constraints of the existing solid brick build, Solid House stands true to its name, and its renovated bones offer a nod to its past life while forming the literal foundations of its next. Coy Yiontis Architects employs strategic and considered methodologies to reconfigure the planning ‘jigsaw puzzle’.

Nestled into the heritage rich and generously densified Melbourne suburb of Elsternwick, Solid House is an exercise in repurposing the existing based on its merit and physical strengths, not merely its ornateness. Originally a single-story elevated home circa 1970, the structural framework was solid and the choice to capitalise on this and improve through a reconfiguration was made. The resulting home sees the internal planning redefined based on refined principles, with a focus on natural light, volume and connection. Coy Yiontis Architects approached the new with an appreciation of the foundations the existing provide, but with a clear sense of clarity and a play on level changes.

Nestled into the heritage rich and generously densified Melbourne suburb of Elsternwick, Solid House is an exercise in repurposing the existing based on its merit and physical strengths, not merely its ornateness.

Connection to the adjacent and surrounding lush landscaped elements was key to the sense of calm and tranquillity created.

Solid House preserves its original orange-coloured brick elements, as testament to its past and as a means to contrast and balance an element of warmth against the cooler contemporary insertions.

Optimising the site’s orientation, and a previously un-utilised northern aspect, the planning was redefined based on movement internally, externally, and the thresholds in-between. An understanding of key relationships between active and passive spaces underlies the formal arrangement and interconnection of zones, with an overarching ideology of open-planned living. Connection to the adjacent and surrounding lush landscaped elements was key to the sense of calm and tranquillity created. The insertion of the pool adds the element of water and has its own interplay with light and movement that affects the experience of the home through its varying stimuli.

Solid House preserves its original orange-coloured brick walls as testament to its past and as a means to contrast and balance an element of warmth against the cooler contemporary insertions. The introduction of dark framework and detailing adds a more refined and finished edge, and the introduction of timber block treads and lining internally adds a brings warmth and additional texture to the palette. Bold lines and larger geometric gestures of form and material transitions further emphasise a sense of contrast and a monolithic quality of its comprising elements. Through excavating downward and expanding on the original floor plan, additional bedrooms were added upstairs and a better engagement with natural solar heat and illumination can be accessed.

As both a preservation and sustainability exercise, Coy Yiontis Architects have injected a new life into this older home, and through an appreciation of the past and a clear vision for the future, the best parts of both are brought together.

Solid House shows how a strategic and well-planned approach can fittingly recover and repurpose existing homes to fit a more contemporary brief. As both a preservation and sustainability exercise, Coy Yiontis Architects has injected a new life into this older home, and through an appreciation of the past and a clear vision for the future, the best parts of both are brought together.

Bold lines and larger geometric gestures of form and material transitions further emphasise a sense of contrast and a monolithic quality of its comprising elements.

Published 24 April, 2020
Photography  Peter Clarke
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