A Neo-Classical Townhouse - South Yarra Townhouse by Inarc Architects
South Yarra, VIC, Australia
Responding to the clients’ changed lifestyle, South Yarra Townhouse sees Inarc Architects breathe new life into an existing neo-classical townhouse in Melbourne’s south.
Living in the South Yarra Townhouse since its construction, time dictated that the clients’ needs and lifestyle would change to such a degree that their home would need to change with them. After assessing all available avenues, Inarc Architects decided with the clients that embarking on major alterations and additions was the most logical route. Reno Rizzo, co-founding director of Inarc Architects says, “a re-evaluation of the property and assessment of relocation options often ensues, but in this case, it did not offer a worthwhile solution.”
As part of a development of four adjoining townhouses within the Botanical Gardens precinct in Melbourne, the original dwelling, Reno explains, “presented to the street together with its three adjoining neighbours as a unified and symmetrical composition.” As a result, Inarc took an approach to the project that is more usually reserved for working in a heritage context, ensuring the integrity of the street-facing elevations was preserved.
Tasked with admitting as much sun and warmth into the existing three-level townhouse as possible, the integration of new openings had to be strategic. Reno says, “the concept of an English glazed conservatory was adopted for the whole of the redevelopment of the ground floor”, with oversized skylights overhead maximising north and east-facing glazing. Although the design works within the constraints of the existing structure, as a means to maintain the street frontage, the extent of the new works, he says, “includes a new courtyard gardens, increased glazing, re-planning and new landscape”. These interventions were brought to life in collaboration with Leone Constructions and Robert Boyle Landscape Design.
Inarc Architects decided with the clients that embarking on major alterations and additions was the most logical route.
Being one of four, South Yarra Townhouse was required to be conscious in its approach. Its neighbouring properties and the interconnection of each was to be maintained, and character enhanced through landscape intervention elements. Reno says, “our approach was to give the eastern additions a garden-esque aesthetic, which both complements the street setting and does not upset the existing character of the buildings.” The minimal approach to intervention is seen in “the matte black fine metal frames of the addition being expressed as a glazed conservatory addition to the existing building, achieving the clients’ brief of enhancing the penetration of sun and light into the building as well as being a good neighbour to the development and streetscape,” Reno reflects.
“Presented to the street together with its three adjoining neighbours as a unified and symmetrical composition.”
In such a stylistically multifaceted environment, the materiality of South Yarra Townhouse had to respond appropriately. The renovation works involve a series of matte black fine metal frames with glazed panels, together with the existing walls as light-coloured render. Internally, a similar approach where soft neutral oak, black metal, a series of greys, stone and richly coloured velvet upholstery, creates a sense of ease and flow between the interior and exterior. Reno says, “the contemporary nature of the clear span openings reinforces the modernity of the new additions and alterations, welcoming in the verdant greenery of the surrounding landscape.”
“Our approach was to give the eastern additions a garden-esque aesthetic, which both complements the street setting and does not upset the existing character of the buildings.”
A subtle re-invogoration of an existing home, South Yarra Townhouse sees an evolved breath of life renew its wearied bones. Through the clients’ changing needs and ardent decision to remain and renovate (instead of relocate), this architectural detailing is executed respectfully with minimal intervention. Enabling increased natural light, site amenity and purpose-built landscaped pockets throughout, Inarc Architects exemplify a successful approach to renovation. With new additions including “roof-mounted solar panels, double glazing, and highly effective heating and cooling systems”, these interventions speak to a residential typology of 2019 that will serve their clients for many years to come.