- Article by Natalie Mortimer
Before work began, this Victorian-era house in Albert Park, Victoria, had closed-off, compartmentalized rooms with a tacked on, lean-to extension resulting in a lack of light, ventilation and outdoor connection. Modscape set about transforming it into a light-filled, airy space with generous proportions.
Inspired by our client’s brief for a minimalist, tranquil residence hidden away from the surrounding city, Modscape worked with the existing structure and added a new extension that would increase the amount of natural light and fresh air entering the house and provide an open living area with an intimate master retreat above.
Heritage characteristics are retained in the original portion of the house, which seamlessly opens to a light and spacious social space that stretches across the full width of the block. Large, full-height glazing recessed into the floor and ceiling, ensure living and dining effortlessly spills outside to the courtyard and pool beyond.
Protective walls extend from inside to out creating a large internalized backyard blurring the lines between inside and outside, old and new, open but sheltered. Sited on a busy street, the rear extension and courtyard containing a single Japanese Elm tree, provide a quiet haven for the residents and creates its own aspect within the property. When sitting in the living room, light bounces off the water in the pool producing wonderful patterns on the ceiling.
The interior utilises a timeless, restrained material palette. The natural limestone tiles were selected as a hardwearing, low maintenance option for a busy home. This floor finish runs through the entire house – from the front door to the bottom of the pool – linking the spaces and further blurring the transition from old to new, inside to out.
The kitchen is connected but slightly separated from the main living space allowing it to function independently. Custom-made joinery pieces open up to be a fully functioning work space but close down when not in use to appear like a piece of furniture. Paired-back with integrated appliances, the kitchen further reinforces the over-arching design idea to create a tranquil space devoid of clutter.
Upstairs, the master suite is constructed from two modules and contrasts the openness of the ground floor. Much of the master bedroom’s sense of calm and intimacy is achieved through the dappled light and shadow created by a fine cedar screen – softening afternoon light and allowing for daytime glimpses out while maintaining privacy.
Natural limestone tiles coupled with cleverly placed skylights, create a soft, tranquil ensuite – a perfect place to relax in the tub after a stressful day.
To maximise the solar performance of the house, adequate sun shading is provided by the first-floor timber box, which overhangs two meters. This allows winter sun to penetrate deep into the home but provides vital protection from the summer heat ensuring no air conditioning is required.
Modscape coordinated all aspects of the build including planning approval, demolition, services connections and landscaping including pool. The modular extension was constructed in 10 weeks, installed in a day with the clients moving back in shortly thereafter.
Photography by John Madden