When Nick Harding of Ha Architecture was hired to renovate an 1880s Victorian terrace home in Moreland, Australia, the firm was met with a series of challenges. The original structure had great bones, but it lacked natural light—and it would take some clever architectural planning to give the residents the open and airy spaces they so desired. Furthermore, Harding would have to work around a series of building regulations due to the property’s heritage status.
The home, which is located in a booming and culturally diverse part of Melbourne, features ornate steelwork typical of a 19th-century Victorian. The homeowners, who happen to be old friends of Harding’s, fell in love with its charming facade.
"The brief was pretty simple," he says. "It was very much about bringing in natural light and having naturally lit living spaces that would be timelessly designed and functional."
Harding’s solution was to create a back addition that’s hidden from the street, and that includes a study, a powder room, and spacious living, cooking, and dining areas. With reference images in hand, and prior experience renovating a number of row houses, Harding and his team got to work.
While the facade couldn’t be changed due to the home’s historic status, Harding "effectively assimilated the old and new construction" with two coats of white paint (Dulux's Lexicon Quarter), which echoes the simplicity of the sculpted addition.
The addition’s low-impact form was driven by a local building rule that requires contractors to respect neighboring yards. "If your courtyard is less than 40 square meters, it’s deemed as precious space—so you can’t have a structure that would overshadow your neighbor’s home," he says.
Furthermore, the home’s lot is quite narrow—so the addition would have to accommodate all of the family’s needs in one compact space.
The homeowners went back and forth on how much timber they wanted in their home, however Ha Architecture ultimately delivered a plan that addressed their differing design styles and felt "as generous as possible in size" with plenty of natural light. As the addition is Southern-facing, HA went for a wall of double-glazed steel-framed windows that open into the garden.
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"We did a lot of testing with the windows to make sure that not too much light would stream in during the daytime," he says. To add even more light, HA inserted a light well between the original home and the add-on.
The common area features a series of custom built-ins made of Tasmanian oak—a wood very common in Southern Australian residential projects. The seamless built-ins conceal the laundry room and Fisher & Paykel kitchen appliances, and hold the entertainment system in the living room.
"We often work on row houses that are five or six meters wide, and when you are dealing with those restrictions, built-ins are the way to go," he says. The floor plan differs every time, but [it’s some iteration]."
A central fireplace in the living room offers a moment of relief from the dark timber—and an efficient way to heat the home. "It’s designed to go reasonably close to the cabinetry, so it fits well in this tightly designed inner-city home," he says. "The clients didn't want to invest in elaborate heating, and they now love this fireplace and use it every day."
While the renovation did have many difficult parameters, it produced a more family-friendly, functional space that the homeowners can enjoy for years to come.
Builder/General Contractor: Block Constructions
Structural Engineer: Keith Long and Associates
Photo Stylist: Bea Lambos / @beaandcostyle