The site spans two streets and has two frontages. An original Art Deco house faced the main street. The client’s brief was to refurbish this house, providing two new bathrooms and to add an open plan living space to its rear. Our objective was to design an addition that was sympathetic to the original house, whilst advancing the stylistic and spatial qualities of its architectural style.
The addition is a collection of sculptural roof forms oriented to provided outlook and sunlight to the interior as well as responding to the setback regulations of the local building code. Made from concrete with fine stucco finish and aluminium edging, the walls are pierced by large sheets of glass and high windows, establishing transparency and lightness to the form and a sensitive relationship with the future garden.
The interior spaces contrast curved black timber with white walls. Ceilings trace the inside of sculptural roof elements to create double-height spaces and then curve down to create intimate spaces. A linear element replicating the trunk of a tree extends the full width of the room, establishing visual continuity with the kitchen and the garden beyond. The timber (Ebony Macassar) is sourced from the trunk of a single tree. The outside of the trunk, where the grain is younger, is located high in the space and it progressively descends to the joinery and intimate spaces where the core is dense and dark. The consistency of the application of the veneer to the upper portions of the walls is intended to make the living areas feel more intimate whilst at the same time maintaining the roof height needed to capture sunlight continuously throughout the day.
Between the addition and the original house, a new courtyard is located to provide light to the inner rooms and living spaces. A discreet staircase at one corner leads to an upper deck located between the roof forms, where panoramic views of treetops over the roof of the original house are achieved.
A corridor with a continuous light beam emanating from its ceiling, guides the inhabitants away from the addition and into the original house. It leads to the two new bathrooms. The first bathroom is clad in black tiles and presents a dark cavernous experience by surfacing the floor, walls and ceiling with dark textured tiles. The darkness of the interior is intended to focus on the user’s (naked) flesh. By contrast the other bathroom is open to the courtyard and is flooded with natural light. It includes a dressing area with cupboards at one end. Here, continuous bronze tiles unify the space and accentuate the natural light at it moves across their surfaces.
The corridor and the bathrooms are intended as counterpoints to the architecture of the original house, posing questions about the nature of old and new and at the same time suggesting possibilities for their reconciliation.Location: Melbourne, Australia Architect: Sharif Abraham Architects Project name: Clifton Hill House
Completion date: 2011
Photographer: Matthew Stanton
Construction Area: 250 sqm