Hawthorn, VIC, Australia
Mason by Bryant Alsop transforms a late Victorian house from ‘ugly duckling’ to future-facing family home. For the new owner, purchasing the property from a family friend meant the house came imbued with memories. A sense of ‘layering’ of families, childhoods and recollections plays strongly through the design.
With no heritage overlay, retention of the existing Victorian dwelling was not required. However, given the contextual significance, the house was retained and restored. Bryant Alsop drew upon the formality and vertical language of Victorian buildings to inform a dialogue between existing and contemporary forms where the scale of new spaces are proportionate with the original house. The singular form of the extension is defined by the rhythm and repetition of curved elements that are used as simple, broad sweeping gestures. Hard materials are tempered by soft shapes to create enveloping spaces.
Key considerations informing the program include zoning the children’s and adult spaces; flexible ground floor spaces that will evolve as the family grows; connection to the garden and outdoors as paramount; the desire for a large area of lawn; and the integration of a roof deck and garden.
The extended home offers ample family accommodation within a relatively small footprint. It was important not to over-develop the site even though it is generous at 734 square metres. The backyard is celebrated, and the completed project offers significantly more private outdoor space and lawn than the previous house with its 1980s addition.
Bryant Alsop worked closely with Interior Designer, Prue Gordon, and horticulturalist, Nicky Muston to create a house and garden that will evolve with the family over time. Mason is both sustainable and energy efficient. Maximising city views to the west called for a solution to counter solar heat load. Operable external louvres control solar penetration allowing the thermal mass of the polished concrete floor to capture winter sun and remain shielded from summer sun. High performance insulation and double glazing throughout improves comfort and environmental performance.
This multi-faceted build sits comfortably amongst the diverse building styles surrounding the site. The home now plays both good host and good neighbour. First floor bedrooms boast good natural light and city views, without over-looking or over-shadowing. The first floor of the extension is visible from the side street, offering a hint of the sculptural form to passers-by.
The architects proved nimble in integrating the roof deck once the project had commenced, resolving access as an extension of the central ribbon stair. An economical footprint and careful material selection remained core to budget responsibility. Bryant Alsop worked hand in hand with the construction team to identify structural efficiencies. Their competence also shows in the speed of delivery with the project completed within two years, from engagement to move-in.
In Mason, Bryant Alsop has responded to their client’s desire for a bold, heroic design, yet one that avoids opulence. The home is a sculptural vessel with spaces for family and friends to gather and for memories to be made.