Stripping Out The Unnecessary – South Yarra House by Winter Architecture
South Yarra, VIC, Australia
Charged with reinvigorating a cumbersome 1990s townhouse, Winter Architecture set about recalibrating South Yarra House, simplifying spatial and material complexities through a process of removal and consolidation.
With the clients seeking a minimalist home that disguised the operations of domestic family life, Winter Architecture sought to strip out unnecessary cornices, ornamentation and other ‘bulk’ that cluttered the limited space. In place of this noisy design language, the architects chose to utilise custom joinery that was lowered intentionally to enhance volume, dimmed wall lights for sophisticated ambience and improved spatial planning to advance the floor layout.
Greater consideration was afforded to the manner in which light entered the house, not only to penetrate the interior spaces but also to give the property a greater grounding and connection to the natural world. A double-height void in the centre of the house frames a silver birch tree, allowing dappled light into the space. A lush garden and pond at the rear of the house is made visible through a series of corner windows and stacking doors. With the pond evident throughout the entire living and kitchen area, it reflects light and connects the home to the outside garden on even the wettest and darkest of days.
Winter Architecture sought to strip out unnecessary cornices, ornamentation and other ‘bulk’ that cluttered the limited space.
Externally, a contemporary dark treatment to the existing envelope helped to reflect the interior changes and better align the house to the well-appearing and polished surrounds of its neighbours. Black paint, black window frames and a simple black balustrade afford the home a newfound subtlety in the tree-lined street. The discrete exterior also allows breathing space for the materially-rich interiors and ensured that the project’s limited budget was directed to areas of greatest priority.
In all, the architects’ design approach has allowed for the stripping of unnecessary elements from the previous floorplan and architecture and in its place installed a measured and sophisticated recalibration that emphasises refinement and care. A drastically improved layout sees space used more effectively, improving access to light and the relationship to the garden throughout, allowing the client’s brief to be realised with a functional and experiential home.