Figureground Architecture

Malvern House

Malvern, VIC, Australia

James Lyall Smith

Architects
Project Type
  • Residential
Location
  • Malvern, VIC, Australia
Lead Architect
  • Matt Rawlins
Area
  • 125m2
Project Year
  • 2016
Photographer
  • Eve Wilson
Project Team
  • Hanah Wexler
Builder
  • PM Versteegen and Sons Pty Ltd
Styling
  • Beck Simon
Landscape Architect
  • Eckersley Garden Architecture
Structural Engineer
  • Kersulting
Location
  • Malvern, VIC, Australia

A true exploration in overcoming the challenges of altering a grand Victorian home in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs.

Is essence this project by Figureground Architecture is a rear addition to a traditionalist Victorian home. The heritage front section of the house had been recently renovated so it was Figuregorund’s task to reconsider the dysfunctional living spaces that had been added to the rear in the late 80s. The poor layout left the design team with little choice but to demolish and start again fresh.

Figureground’s strategy was to maximise the north facing garden and to embrace external spaces as if they were extra rooms in the house. These spaces have been divided into 3 gardens; a passive central green courtyard, a raised deck for socialising and a smaller courtyard to the south. The new dining and living areas have been subtly separated by a dark stained kitchen ‘pod’, allowing each of the distinct spaces to enjoy a contrasting garden aspect. Floor to ceiling black steel framed glazing visually draws the central lush landscape into the kitchen, becoming the primary focus. The dining room is framed by the green wall of the southern courtyard whilst the deep revealed living room windows act to control light levels and create a moodier setting.

The poor layout left Figureground Architecture with little choice but to demolish and start again fresh.

A butler’s pantry concealed behind the kitchen provides a generous preparation area allowing the client to cater for dinner parties without worrying about the mess. Formally, the addition is intended to read as a modernist ruin. The masonry structure is finished with a natural sand cement render, designed to gracefully age as it weathers over time. Vines are encouraged to grow over it and blur the distinction between dwelling and garden.

Formally, the addition is intended to read as a modernist ruin.

“The clients had been frustrated for years living in the dysfunctional addition, so it was a pleasure to be able to start from scratch and provide them with something that actually worked.” States head architect Matt Rawlins. “Every part of the land is now used to maximum effect and they have told us that the new addition is a pleasure to live in.”

“Every part of the land is now used to maximum effect and they have told us that the new addition is a pleasure to live in.”

When asked about highlights he would take away from the Malvern House project Matt Rawlins explained, “I think this project was a good example of how working with a qualified architect can surpass a client’s expectations. We were able to demonstrate how a more considered arrangement of spaces could successfully solve problems and create new opportunities which they had not conceived.”

“We were able to demonstrate how a more considered arrangement of spaces could successfully solve problems and create new opportunities which they had not conceived.”

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Eve Wilson

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