Claire Scorpo

St Kilda East House

St Kilda, VIC, Australia

James Lyall Smith

Project Type
  • Residential
  • St Kilda, VIC, Australia
  • 114m2
Project Year
  • 2016
  • Tom Ross
Project Team
  • Claire Scorpo
  • Nicholas Barker
  • Matthew Stanley
  • Locbuild
  • St Kilda, VIC, Australia

Form meets function in this charming residential alteration project in the beachside Melbourne suburb of St Kilda.

St Kilda East House by Claire Scorpo is a tiny addition to an existing Edwardian House. With just 11m2 of new building works, this project engaged with big ideas within a modest footprint and budget to enhance the quality of everyday experience for the family living here.

There were some big ideas that the design team wanted to engage with through the design of this addition. The main components were: Achieving a modest footprint, high engagement with the existing landscape, capturing the naturally occurring light and shadow, creating the delight of verticality in a small plan area, designing an adaptable space that changes continually throughout the day and strong engagement with context.

The act of pushing the kitchen out into the garden allows an activation of the outside garden throughout the year. Within the house, each of the living spaces are connected, yet in a push away from open plan, have their own independence allowing the space to be used in a range of ways as the family grows.

The form of the addition borrows directly from the existing house, matching the height and pitch of the roofline. This is expressed in the repeated portal frame module that is cutback to enhance the relationship between existing house and garden, and gave a direct northern face for light and shadows. The small addition retains the existing generous setback from the neighbouring property to retain a useable side yard. Ultimatley this project re-examines a common approach to additions, by containing the new program in a tiny envelope.

The landscape is a strong driver in this project, so in working together with the landscape architect the design team created a solution that integrated the outside, ensuring no transition between landscape and architecture. On a small site this was seen as a must for success. This project was a true collaboration from beginning to end.

Due to the tight budget, a hierarchy was placed over the design from the beginning. Space and light were at the top of the list. There was no joiner in the contract, instead using ikea base units and custom ply top units and lounge shelving, and minimal bathroom joinery. External material was kept basic, inexpensive and functional to afford the timber portal pergola and deck. Both of these features pushed the spatial qualities beyond the basic site, and set up a dialogue with the existing context and space.

Initially briefed as a rebuild of the existing lean to with a new bathroom, the functional outcome of the project achieved something beyond this brief, and engaged with the client broader long term life goals. What they have now is a house they can continue to grow in as their family develops, as opposed to a direct fix.

To view more Claire Scorpo inspired architecture head to the Agius Scorpo TLP Design Profile Page.

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Tom Ross

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