The project is conceived with respect for the existing building and the context. The project forms part of the practice’s research into ways to update historic built fabric to today’s conceptual and functional needs while maintaining an essence of the original building. Part of the challenge is to obtain approval in a contested inner city context. The front façade of the house is updated with new colour only. Inside the ground floor the two front rooms are retained as conceptually separate spaces. New incisions allow interconnection between the rooms and the entrance hall without the rooms losing their individuality. To the first floor the front room is retained as the main bedroom with a freestanding joinery introduced to improve the proportions of the room with new bedrooms forming the traditional split-level first floor to the south. The ground floor combined kitchen and living zone is boldly contemporary, opening full-height and width to frame the rear garden with striking floor to ceiling glazed sliding doors. The threshold between the contemporary space of the new living zone and the formal front rooms is framed and connected through the framing effect of the light court, servant spaces and kitchen joinery.
We worked closely with the existing building. As much of the existing structure as possible was retained for sustainability reasons, but also to maintain the link to existing building and the spatial qualities of traditional rooms. Contemporary spaces sit behind and over the retained spaces. New spaces and built form are clothed in a stealthy dark skin when viewed from the rear web of interconnecting laneways. The roof-like rear expression is grafted on to the existing house form, conceptually minimising the formal presence of the added floor area and encapsulating the new upper level internal and external living zones.
A design-led architecture, interiors and urbanism studio in South Melbourne
McMahon and Nerlich established in 2013 with a focus on finely crafted residential and commercial projects. Directors Rob Nerlich and Kate McMahon weave together influences from the built environment, architectural urbanism and design theory to create beautiful buildings and spaces
McMahon and Nerlich is an experienced design studio based in South Melbourne, founded in 2013 by directors Rob Nerlich and Kate McMahon. Our multi-disciplinary studio brings a unique vision and dedication to each project. We work across all scales with expertise in residential, education, commercial and urban design across metropolitan and regional areas. We remain passionate about designing houses for people. Each project we undertake contributes to our practice research and our focus on design-led architecture that is sustainable and a portrait of our clients. We hold studio leader positions at the Melbourne School of Design at the University of Melbourne. We have a growing published and award-winning portfolio of built work across the residential and commercial sectors and we have a strong and clear practice/process philosophy and social sustainability ethic. We welcome you to contact us and become part of our practice journey.