When I took my son to see the house in the midst of its completion, through his eyes, it unfolded as an endless structure, 'a house that never ended' - in his young mind, it appeared as a house stretching far beyond its actual boundaries. Read more

But from the client’s perspective, a family with two children, this contemporary extension to an Edwardian house , is a generous and comfortable family home of approximately 180 square metres in area but feeling considerably larger with the use of roof terraces and courtyard gardens designed by landscape architect Jo Henry.

While a large portion of the period timber house was retained, now functioning as three bedrooms, including a guest bedroom and following an orthogonal arrangement, the new two-storey wing is constructed in recycled brick. And to take advantage of the garden and also the northern light, the new addition is skewed. While the past and present are clearly delineated, both in form and materials, the scale of the new rooms and courtyard spaces reflect that of the original home.

Previously one entered the North Fitzroy house via a front door. The entry is now via a side pathway that leads to a forecourt and directly into the core of the house rather than having to pass by bedrooms along a corridor. For Steffen Welsch Architects, the intention was not only to provide additional bedroom accommodation and a level of separation between the children and parents, but to create a series of different experiences, with views extending through rooms into gardens.

There’s now a generous lounge and dining area, the latter forming part of the open plan kitchen, along with a separate main bedroom suite that benefits from two terraces, including one on the roof. And to ensure privacy for neighbours as well as for the owners, there’s timber-battened screens that also diffuse the light.

Although the site is relatively generous for the inner-city at just over 450 square metres in area, it feels like the ‘house that never ends’ with its courtyards and roof terraces. And while the courtyards can simply be enjoyed for extending sight lines, they are also regularly used. The courtyard aligned to the front door, for example, features a brick plinth that contains a single tree that is also wide enough to sit on -a subtle reference to the types of squares found in small European villages where the outdoors is as important as interior spaces. And like these villages, there’s also an exterior fireplace that allows these courtyards to be used in the cooler seasons. Not surprisingly, this house comes with a 7-star NatHERS rating.

Written by Stephen Crafti