An Old Kit House Is Transformed Into a Multigenerational Home

B.E Architecture combines a revitalized kit home with a modern steel-and-glass extension to form a multigenerational Melbourne residence.

Perched on a hilltop in the multicultural Melbourne suburb of Richmond is a family home that the owners share with their two elderly mothers. The 4,154-square-foot residence, which was designed by local studio B.E Architecture, is composed of two distinct parts: the original period house, which was beautifully restored, and a new, modern extension. 

The original building was one of the earliest Australian kit homes that included a workers' cottage and intact outhouse. Because of its poor condition, the dated home had to be extensively renovated. Heritage elements in the veranda, such as the French doors and timber weatherboards, were restored during the revamp.

"Most clients and architects would have looked at the existing building with despair, but for this project, the site and house have been turned into a massive opportunity to salvage a piece of history and the lifestyle it represents," says Jon Boucher, B.E Architecture’s director and co-founder. 

The new extension has been designed as a two-level sculptural form that twists from a single point, creating setbacks and overhangs that provide shade for the courtyard and ground level. 

Built with metal and mirrored glass, the new extension has a crisp, vertical form that provides a striking, yet complementary contrast to the old building.   

The framework and internal structure was rebuilt and straightened. A new internal core was incorporated within the existing weathered shell of the house. 

The open-plan common areas on the lower level flow to the adjacent outdoor courtyard.

"The new internal plan respects all existing external openings. The interiors continued the external detailing and materiality with timber-lined rooms and joinery, and modern reinterpretations of decorative period details," says Boucher.

"Each component creates its own distinct vernacular. Together, the two create a cross section through architectural history along James Street. The aim was to have the best of both worlds—the heritage values of the site combined with an exaggeration of the possibility of the future," Boucher explains. 

A glazed link connects the old and new components of the house. 

The extension’s cantilevered upper level orientates the master bedroom toward the city skyline. 

Shop the Look

Private rooms with ensuite bathrooms for the mothers are located within the older portion of the building with the reinterpreted period details. These rooms open in the opposite direction onto a veranda and private garden.

A peek at the bathroom finished with plenty of natural stone.

The Ground-Level Floor Plan

The First-Level Floor Plan

Project Credits: 

Architecture, interior, and landscape design: B.E Architecture / @b.e_architecture

Builder: Marven Construction 

Civil engineering: McLeod Consulting

Photography: Peter Clarke


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