A Multitiered Addition With a Lush Courtyard Revives a Federation-Style Melbourne Home

Architectural studio WALA breathes new life into a dated weatherboard bungalow with a two-level extension that incorporates a rear garden and addresses the home’s flood-prone site.
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The couple with young kids who purchased this old weatherboard bungalow in Coburg, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia, knew that it would require an unusual design to keep up with building requirements in the floor-prone neighborhood while meeting their needs for a comfortable family home.

But the team at local architectural studio WALA used the existing constraints to foster creativity, designing an elevated, two-story rear extension and partially restoring the front of the Federation-era bungalow.

The new addition was built with tiered floor levels in response to the area’s flood threats. This created "a wonderful opportunity to have a bit of fun by making the impacted interior spaces more meaningful yet playful," says WALA director Weian Lim. 

The varying floor plates work to establish a clear distinction between the original building and the extension, facilitating "a sense of momentary spatial compression and expansion as one moves from the old building into the new," Lim continues.

The intentional separation between the two structures is reflected in their functions, too. The bedrooms and utility areas are located in the front of the home, while the rear addition is dedicated to shared family spaces. 

A sunken lounge and dining nook with built-in, wraparound seating provide visual contrast between the cooking, eating, and living areas, which in turn has the effect of making the open-plan layout feel more expansive.

On the exterior and interior, the use of low-maintenance materials—Colorbond steel cladding, unfinished concrete blocks, aluminum slates, and Blackbutt timber—are meant to withstand potential floods while underpinning the addition with what WALA describes as a "simple, honest and robust feeling." The original period house was painted white in keeping with the neighborhood’s Federation-era ambiance.

Throughout the Coburg Freeboard House, there is a strong connection between indoor and outdoor spaces, too. Full-height, glazed sliding doors open to a raised deck that connects to a self-contained pavilion with a study and second living room. The large, rear courtyard is anchored by a Japanese maple tree that works to harmonize the two buildings. 

Passive design principles—including lots of natural light, attention to air flow, a green roof, and deep eaves to provide shaded areas—also enhance the sense of indoor/outdoor connectedness throughout the home. 

Related Reading:

A Melbourne Home Gains a Marvelous Modular Addition

16 Impressive "Before & After" Renovations in Australia

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: WALA / @wala.studio

Builder/General Contractor: Owner Builder in conjunction with Green X Homes

Structural Engineer: HTD Consultants

Landscape Design: GBRR Landscapes

Interior Stylist: Bea + Co / @beaandcostyle

Photography: Tess Kelly / @tesskellyphotography

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