Light is encouraged from above and the side, dispersing through new and existing openings to highlight materials, old and new. Cork dapples the indirect light, glass balusters capture and hold the light like a candle, lime based paint hold light to layered, existing surfaces.
To connect the user with the hallway (typical of terrace housing) attempts to slow down the typical rushed transition. The change of state from outside to inside is now visually linked from front to back. Hallways, stairways, landings, entries are no longer isolated experiences, they are vestibules connected by replanning and additions in order to psychologically connect the occupant with the place they have chosen as their home.
The existing conditions of the Victorian terrace house in Melbourne’s inner suburb of Princes Hill, provided a combination of Victorian grandeur of scale and materiality, 1980s rear extension as well as more recent piecemeal additions, consisting of multiple rises and falls between spaces, clustered programming, lack of natural light (synonymous with terrace houses), vast, under-utilised spaces and a strangely elevated, dark and unwelcoming kitchen.
The highly resolved and rationalised response sought to promote and celebrate key features of the Victorian terrace house; original staircase, high ceilings, ornamental detail and connection to rear garden and light well as well as attempted to reinstate order, eliminate unnecessary changes in level and resolve the misplaced, dominating program of kitchen, laundry and bathroom (all located centrally, around the heritage staircase).
Access from the front door to the rear garden is now achievable on one level, without interrupting doors or program, the concept of ‘passage’ was achieved with a new infill concrete slab connecting the original terrace hallway to the shell of the 1980s extension. Key program elements were relocated in a light filled extension in the southern light well, housing a laundry, bathroom and separate shower, which can open and close depending on use in order to provide borrowed light to the corresponding dark party wall.
The circulation of the new scheme promotes and celebrates the heritage staircase, following the removal of cupboards and stair additions, careful refurbishment of the staircase created enough space to transition underneath and experience the original structure and materials, combined with a non-competing new addition of timber, steel and glass balusters. Original brickwork and later steel additions have been exposed and promoted.
The kitchen now acts as the binding focus of the terrace, filled with natural light from the courtyard and above, bookended by living (connected to the stair) and dining (connected to the garden) programs.
Careful research into the history of the area and the building, led to material selection consisting of cork flooring, clear sealed steel work, opalescent paint to new portal frame, solid local timber and translucent materials.