Injecting Lightness – Toorak House by Pipkorn Kilpatrick
Toorak, VIC, Australia
Originally designed and built in the 1960s, Toorak Project is the reworking of a beloved mid-century home while preserving its key proportions and character. Pipkorn Kilpatrick strips back an ill-fitting 1990s renovation to re-instil the original principles of the modernist movement and inject a contemporary lightness.
Located in Melbourne’s inner south-east of Toorak, the project of the same name is a journey both in preserving and enhancing heritage elements and fusing a sense of the contemporary into the family home. Originally built in 1962, the home was designed by architect Harry Ernest and reflected the core mid-century principles of the time, through form, planning and materiality. Known as a time of experimentation due to advances in steel, glass and cantilever potential, the periodposed an opportune playground for young architects. After having its own ill-fitting renovation in the 1990s, the Toorak Project was in need of a new sense of self. Through a contemporary and modernist-appreciative lens, Pipkorn Kilpatrick brings a welcomed lightness to the resulting home.
Located in Melbourne’s inner south-east of Toorak, the project of the same name is a journey both in preserving and enhancing heritage elements and fusing a sense of the contemporary into the family home.
Built by Sier Constructions, together with joinery by Kurv Living and engineering by John McGovern, the project required optimisation of the internal and external visual connection. Aligning with mid-century philosophies, joinery is smaller in scale than the traditionalfull-height built-in approach, allowing for uninterrupted views between rooms and high-level glazing opportunities. Each space had its own connection to the outdoors and maintaining and celebrating these connections through extending structural elements became a priority in the new works. The resulting selection of finishes, furniture and lighting that fills the home is an extension the core philosophies of the home’s original era. Subtlety is then used in combination to create a series of more intimate and passive zones.
The approach was inspired and heavily influenced by the addition of personality throughout, while still allowing the modernist spirit to be celebrated. The reworking of the bathroom and kitchen sees joinery and finishes bringing a soft and cool palette together through materiality. Carrara marble, terrazzo, soft grey tones and minimal fixings all reinforce a reductionist approach, where a muted space allowed for connections beyond the bounding walls. The restrained palette also adds a softness to the space,and the expansive use of white and glazed openings encourages light inward and lights up the interior through reflection and refraction. Iconic furniture pieces then dot each of the spaces, as reminders of the period’s many great producers.
Originally built in 1962, the home was designed by architect Harry Ernest and reflected the core mid-century principles of the time, through form, planning and materiality.
The Toorak Project beautifully reconnects the current home with its past and carves a new light-filled platform for the home’s narrative to continue. Pipkorn Kilpatrick has carefully combined contextual notes and nods to the home’s past with a contemporary relevance.