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This project is an alteration and addition to an existing early-80s inner city dwelling in Richmond, Victoria. An early discussion with the client led to the decision to resist the temptation of demolishing the entire building and restarting. In optimising the already existing northern aspect of the living area, and harnessing the embodied energy of the existing house, our design proves that it is not necessary, nor economically or sustainably viable, to demolish a perfectly good structure. The design is sustainability in its first principle – reuse, revive, compact and close to public transport and local amenities.

The internal planning strategies are devoted to the layering of spaces, and orchestrating the sequences in a mise-en-scene like methodology.

We opened up the interior and got rid of the original rabbit warren internal walls. Starting from the dramatic suspended black raw steel staircase as the focal point upon entry, the interior then unfolds from the living room, to the kitchen then to the courtyard and dining, then finally to the master bedroom and its private courtyard at the end. The kitchen and dining open towards a north courtyard, with double sliding doors that span over 5 meters, reminiscent of a Japanese courtyard house, where indoor and outdoor are seamlessly connected. Fully decked with spotted gum, the courtyard is decisively minimal with only a single Japanese maple tree as its decoration. Materials were selected with texture and humanising in mind. They are a careful balance of scale, yet playful in juxtaposition and detailing. This is apparent especially in the change of materials at the staircase from the recycled timber sleepers to the reconstituted stone benchtop at the landing, and transit to the black raw steel suspension. They are also at the same time, a dialectic dialogue between weight and material, with the heavy timber sleepers bolted to the floor and the ‘abnormal’ razor thin folded steel vividly suspended in the air.

The Architects EAT Magazine No.01  

A rough guide to Architects EAT's residential portfolio, focusing on people, lifestyle, and inspiration.

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