A Historic Melbourne Home Sports an Angular Addition and a Batten Screen

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By Kate Reggev
WALA renovates and expands a heritage listed home with a second-floor addition that presents a graphic, batten-screen facade.

Sited on a "pizza-shaped" lot in Albert Park area of Melbourne, a Victorian home was in need of a major renovation for a family of four. Charged with removing inefficient, ad hoc additions at the rear and adding on an architecturally distinct, light-filled space for the family, Melbourne–based architecture firm WALA created a volume covered on the exterior with a "wall of light" made out of translucent polycarbonate.

At night, the battens on the facade glow, further emphasizing the triangular shapes inspired by the gabled roofs of the home and its neighbors.

At night, the battens on the facade glow, further emphasizing the triangular shapes inspired by the gabled roofs of the home and its neighbors.

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Inspired by the slopes and angles of the existing home’s gabled roof and those of the Victorian homes in the area, the design team created a faceted, angular facade of vertical battens for the new extension.

Inspired by the slopes and angles of the existing home’s gabled roof and those of the Victorian homes in the area, the design team created a faceted, angular facade of vertical battens for the new extension.

WALA started with rethinking the traditional placement of bedrooms on the second floor, instead locating them on the first floor in the rear addition. This decision allowed the bedrooms to take advantage of the privacy and security of a new street wall while opening up the living room on the second floor to receive better views and daylight. 

As an addition to a listed home in Melbourne, the local preservation regulations required the alteration be distinct from the historic home. This was done through both form and materiality.

As an addition to a listed home in Melbourne, the local preservation regulations required the alteration be distinct from the historic home. This was done through both form and materiality.

On the exterior, local preservation laws required the new addition to be visually distinct from the historic facade, and WALA sought to connect the two through form and color. Inspired by the slopes and angles of the existing home’s gabled roof and those of the Victorian homes in the area, the design team created a faceted, angular facade of vertical battens for the new extension.

The battens not only have strong graphic sensibility, but also create privacy and views into neighboring gardens, while a full-height polycarbonate wall along living spaces on the upper floor allows for lots of daylight and provides a fresh alternative to traditional punched windows.

The bedroom on the first floor has access to a private back porch, separated from the street with the street wall—but open enough that it can take advantage of lots of light.

The bedroom on the first floor has access to a private back porch, separated from the street with the street wall—but open enough that it can take advantage of lots of light.

WALA also considered color and material palette, looking to shades of white and translucency to tie both parts of the home together. To break up the neutral tones, texture became critical, with the regular machined finish of aluminum-extruded battens contrasting with the aged texture of the existing building’s weatherboard cladding.

In the dining area, Billiani Design 'Blue' dining chairs from Hub Furniture are a bold but warm shade of blue that provides a welcome moment of contrast from the white walls and dining table. 

In the dining area, Billiani Design 'Blue' dining chairs from Hub Furniture are a bold but warm shade of blue that provides a welcome moment of contrast from the white walls and dining table. 

On the interior of the home, light pours in on the second floor from the spaces between the battens, and are emphasized with mostly white interiors with moments of color like a sculptural pink sofa, blue dining chairs, or a sliding yellow door. 

A large sliding door closes off a small home office, which takes advantage of its irregular shape by placing windows and plants near the corner.

A large sliding door closes off a small home office, which takes advantage of its irregular shape by placing windows and plants near the corner.

On the first floor, a bedroom with neutral colors opens up to a private garden, with protection overhead from a cantilevered second floor. 

A small terrace on the second floor is partially enclosed with battens and polycarbonate for privacy, but the spacing of the battens and the translucency of the polycarbonate still allow for light and views of the city beyond.

A small terrace on the second floor is partially enclosed with battens and polycarbonate for privacy, but the spacing of the battens and the translucency of the polycarbonate still allow for light and views of the city beyond.

At street level, the architects were able to introduce a shared garden at the because of the irregularly shaped site. The garden is made possible by angling the home’s street wall back away from the sidewalk, creating a small green space. The garden promotes engagement with the street and passersby, ultimately making the intervention a way of thoughtfully integrating into the neighborhood. 

The street wall, new addition, and existing building are all united in their color palette of shades of white, but are distinct in their materials, shape, and joint patterns. The street wall and existing building have a horizontal emphasis, while the second floor's addition has a vertical one.

The street wall, new addition, and existing building are all united in their color palette of shades of white, but are distinct in their materials, shape, and joint patterns. The street wall and existing building have a horizontal emphasis, while the second floor's addition has a vertical one.

Related Reading: This Australian Abode Is a Glass Pavilion Wrapped in Sliding Hardwood Screens

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: WALA / @wala.studio 

Builder: Daylan Developments

Structural Engineer: R.I. Brown 

Civil Engineer: R.I. Brown

Landscape Design Company: Australian Vertical Garden Group

Lighting Supplier: Beacon Lighting

Interior Stylist: Rowena Moore

Cabinetry Design: LV Kitchens

Window Supplier: Uptons Windows

Photographer: Tatjana Plitt / @tatjanaplitt