Through Wattletree House, Olaver Architecture responds to the difficulties of a heritage project with great dignity, creating a new family home that is both contemporary and sympathetic to its context.
Upon returning from a long stint overseas, the clients requested that Olaver Architecture both find the location for and design their dream home. This particular site, on a decent sized-lot in inner-suburban Melbourne, ticked a lot of boxes; however, it was understood from the outset that planning and obtaining building approvals from council would prove difficult given the site’s heritage.
As such, Wattletree House is the result of extensive consultation, with many design iterations preceding it. For this reason, the home is an architectural legacy for Olaver and a case study example of holistic approach. Through deeply engaged open dialogue with council and members of the neighbourhood, the Olaver team was able to exceed the family’s expectations while fulfilling an architectural duty of care to the community.
With any addition, the true test is in how the consideration given to the junction between old and the new. The corner site provided a unique and immediate opportunity to suggest the contemporary nature of Olaver’s approach – the traditional picket fence bleeding into the aluminium battens with ease, providing a thread of balanced materiality that is followed throughout the home. The natural zinc façade, other than being a striking visual feature of the home, was materially selected to serve the design in complementary ways. Over time, the zinc will weather and age, expressing the history that the new addition gathers across the years.
Through deeply engaged open dialogue with council and members of the neighbourhood, the Olaver team was able to exceed the family’ expectations while fulfilling an architectural duty of care to the community.
The extended palette of glass, brick and timber ensures the addition speaks to the textural history of the retained heritage front, which has now been completely reworked into a private wing for the parents. Then, floor-to-ceiling glass in the living and dining areas allows the sun to penetrate throughout the day and imbue the home with warmth and lightness, regardless of whether the curtain wrapping the space is fully drawn. Although the abundance of glass would seem to be overly open to the neighbour, more privacy is achieved in the main living spaces because the addition is set down from the existing floor level.
Focusing on both the clients’ need for a ‘forever home’ and the demands of the site’s planning overlay, Olaver’s elemental foresight births an animated design that will dynamically respond to the heritage context in the years to come.