A Cool Melbourne Cottage Riffs Off of its Victorian Neighbors

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By Michele Koh Morollo
Using the same roof form and materials as the houses surrounding it, this Australian residence reinterprets the pitched-roof silhouette and traditional elevation of its Victorian neighbors—but with a new, modern twist.

The new-build family home in the northwest Melbourne suburb of Ascott Vale was designed with two living areas, a kitchen, dining area, study, four bedrooms, three bathrooms, an undercover entertainment area, and three outdoor spaces. Designed by Australian architecture studio FIGR, it measures 2,013 square feet and was built to comfortably accommodate a growing family of five. 

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The envelop of the building, which takes cues from the classic Victorian cottages on the block, was sited on a slim, sloping plot in order to allow the facade to be at the same level as the other traditional pitched-roof houses that flank it. 

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The architects used a split-level arrangement to respond to the sloping site, and inserted black metal shrouds into the envelope, which serve as openings that bring in light and frame outdoor views. 

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The house is divided into three levels. The ground level features an open-plan living area, linear kitchen, and dining zone—with a backyard to its south and a central courtyard to its north. 

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The first level also houses a carpeted study retreat, the main bedroom, and laundry room. Three children’s bedrooms and two bathrooms are located on the lower ground level. 

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From the entrance alcove, one can go straight towards a central courtyard, turn left, and enter the main living area—then turn right and take five steps up towards the study retreat, or take 14 steps down into the children’s bedrooms. 

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On the far end of the kitchen, a corner daybed extends out into the rear yard. 

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Here, a large window can be opened to connect the daybed to the outdoors. 

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"The idea to subtract a volume from the envelope of the building in order to create a centrally located courtyard, evolved as a strategy to offer the house access to natural light and to provide the rooms with visual amenities," says Michael Artemenko, co-director of FIGR. 

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Project Credits: 

- Architect: FIGR 

- Builder/General Contractor: Grundella Constructions

- Structural and Civil Engineer: Meyer Consulting

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