Emphasised by a connection to the outdoors, Arthur emerges as a contemporary and considered alteration and expansion of an existing Federation-era home. Oscar Sainsbury Architects optimises a series of outward-facing connections and crafts a refined addition to sit lightly and engaged on site.
Set amongst the rich residential fabric of Melbourne’s north, Arthur is located in Fairfield surrounded by similar sized residential allotments. Originally built in the Federation style, the double-fronted home and its engagement with the streetscape remains as part of the alterations and additions work, ensuring a consistency from approach allowing the new works to unfold behind. The main focus is to connect the home outwardly and fragment the formal planning of the original home and, in the process, create key connections with the surrounding landscape and greenspace. As both a comment and a response to the reality that outdoor space has become such a prized and increasingly rare commodity, the owners wanted to embrace their own private yard. Oscar Sainsbury Architects open the home to it as much as possible, allowing natural light and ventilation to pass through, emphasising a coexistence.
As a moment of transition and pause, a carefully positioned courtyard is inserted between the old and new, to allow on-grade access from the home. The courtyard becomes an opportunity to draw in light and for the functions of the home to spill out as needed into the outdoor space. The central corridor then acts as a portal to the new addition, framing the view of the yard and the generous offering of light awaiting. The addition then sits to the rear, encased in timber and glass, with folding and operable elements that engage with the natural environment. In response to the flood overlay and associated requirements for new structures, the addition sits elevated, where a linear platform steps transition down between the home and the garden, also acting as seating opportunities.
The most prominent issue with heritage homes is the lack of access to natural light and a rigid approach to planning, which although appropriate for its time does not accommodate the way in which we occupy homes today. Here, the original elements of the home become the naturally separated bedroom spaces, whose passive nature aligns with the separation the planning affords. The new combined living, dining and kitchen space then becomes the heart of the home. Positioned to the rear and reaching further into the landscape, the form sits open and embracing of the garden, encouraging a further flow out into the space by way of timber decking and the steps down.