A Sense of Adventure – South Yarra House by Lande Architects
The Fisher & Paykel Series
Melbourne, VIC, Australia
When a heritage home receives a refresh, it is a given that the old informs the new – not only is it respectful to do so, it is enforced. But there is nothing bullish about the intersection of heritage and contemporary in the South Yarra House. Lande Architects has generously woven the history of the surrounding area into the design, resulting in a layered home that poetically nods to its historical context.
This single fronted Victorian terrace sits within the secluded Medley Precinct, a unique sub-division dating back to the late 19thcentury which carved up the area, creating small pockets and narrow walkways in lieu of streets. It is lush with greenery, a sense of community and a rare stillness for a property in such close proximity to Chapel Street. “It feels more like the backstreets of Castlemaine, and we love the area for that,” principal architect of Lande Architects Lachlan McArdle says.
“We wanted to inject that sense of surprise and discovery into the house through internal courtyards and green rooves, and the rear courtyard where the landscaping reflects our first walk down the back of the house through those secluded green areas.”
As both architect and owner, Lachlan – who lived in the home for 18 months with his wife Emma before work began – was determined to infuse the character of the area into their home. “We wanted to inject that sense of surprise and discovery into the house through internal courtyards and green rooves, and the rear courtyard where the landscaping reflects our first walk down the back of the house through those secluded green areas,” he says.
Designing for himself and his young family (he and Emma have a one-year-old son, William) was an experience Lachlan wholly embraced alongside fellow principal architect Ellie Spinks. “It was a really good opportunity for Ellie and I to tackle a project as the architects, and me as the end user, to really deep dive into a typical client’s brief,” Lachlan explains. “As architects we have a pretty good understanding of a space and its potential,” he reasons, “but that’ll never constitute living there for an extended period of time. We might have one or two meetings in the house, but we haven’t spent a winter there, or a Saturday night, and seen how the house and its context can inform the design.”
“It was a really good opportunity for Ellie and I to tackle a project as the architects, and me as the end user, to really deep dive into a typical client’s brief.”
Lachlan and Ellie believe in making every inch of a space work hard; unlocking that was one of the biggest challenges. The layout came organically, but there was one aspect of the ground floor they could not crack. “There was a dinner one night, and much to the dismay of our partners Emma and Tom, the drawings were pulled out,” Lachlan reminisces. “Ellie suggested we rotate the kitchen to where it is now, and this really unlocked the flow of downstairs. It was harnessing and exploiting that leftover space underneath the stairs that enabled us to access the full width of the house.”
The kitchen is positioned between the dining and living spaces, and as a result, serves as the backdrop to both. “The orientation meant that it had to be highly functional, and that no matter where you are – either in the living or dining rooms – you still feel as though you’re connected to what’s happening in the kitchen,” he explains.
“It was harnessing and exploiting that leftover space underneath the stairs that enabled us to access the full width of the house.”
The couple wanted a minimal aesthetic balancing functionality with beauty, for which Fisher & Paykel appliances were ideal. The integrated insert rangehood proved perfect for this layout – it does not fight for attention and is wonderfully quiet, two big wins for a central island bench. The integrated refrigerator freezer with fully concealed ventilation was also an easy choice, as was the integrated double DishDrawer as “it disappears into the background” and can do half loads.
With one island bench, it was a “no brainer” to select an induction cooktop, Lachlan explains. Not only does it use green energy, but “it can double as a worktop when not in use and not clutter that space,” he says. The couple love to cook and have found that since becoming parents, they are increasingly in the kitchen. The 76cm minimal style oven has been a highlight, he says – with 17 functions and touchscreen guided cooking capability, it has enhanced the way they cook.
“Fisher & Paykel have been amazing – they’re very passionate about their products. We love the minimal aesthetic they can offer, and the insight they shared into the technical ability of their appliances was very reassuring.”
“The minimal oven is perfect; it’s so pleasant to see one colour with no crazy dials or features. It blends in with the rest of the kitchen and reflects a lot of what’s happening around it.” He adds: “Fisher & Paykel have been amazing – they’re very passionate about their products. We love the minimal aesthetic they can offer, and the insight they shared into the technical ability of their appliances was very reassuring.”
The overall layout of the home has been designed to work for the young family now, but also as life evolves. The first floor includes two bedrooms at either end, a bathroom, and a living area that doubles as a home office. “That living area upstairs is a hardworking space for many different times of the day. Having those two bedrooms close but not touching means we can head upstairs after dinner and wind down but be close enough to William to keep an ear out and know he’s ok,” Lachlan says.
To not only successfully create a thread that speaks to the surrounding area, but to gracefully impart it into the project is testament to the architects’ abilities to go beyond structure and purpose, and foster a rounded, sensory experience.
Downstairs, the architects have masterfully reinterpreted the traditional layout. Here, luxury meets ease and practicality. They have created a generous master suite (a bedroom at the front with a walk-in robe and ensuite through an arched doorway); a powder room and laundry; and an internal courtyard set deeper into the building. It is an honest response to what has come before, but there is a newfound flow between the previously segmented spaces, and a sense of release as you move through to the open plan living area.
As was the intention from the very beginning of this project, the sense of greenery and of discovery can be felt in every room. There is a subtle green wash to many of the finishes, an olive-green grout in the bathrooms, sage cabinetry in the kitchen, and warming shades of green permeating the textiles and artwork. The idea was to “hit neutrals without being boring,” says Lachlan.
To not only successfully create a thread that speaks to the surrounding area but to gracefully impart it into the project is testament to the architects’ abilities to go beyond structure and purpose and foster a rounded, sensory experience. This underpins one of the core philosophies of the practice – that the architecture should never be the hero, rather it should be the backdrop, the support.
That is exactly what has been achieved with the South Yarra House – the original home acts as the vessel that houses a narrative over 100 years old. The architects have taken this narrative and respectfully strengthened it, creating a renewed sense of adventure in the process.