A Backyard Eucalyptus Becomes the Muse For This Home Remodel
"The original house had not been touched in decades," Fiona Dunin, the director of FMD Architects, remarks as she describes the renovation of a one-story midcentury property she completed last year in Melbourne.
Before she and her team reached its doorstep in the eastern suburbs of the city, the owner had lived in a maze of dark ad-hoc extensions, in which Dunin says did nothing to enhance the quality of the home's surroundings.
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"The main objective was to create living spaces with a strong connection to the landscape, and access to extensive natural light," she continues. "The footprint had to be reduced to having no superfluous spaces."
But the simplicity is in the bigger picture, and not in its layered finishes. The running details of brick and wood are what give this house its character, and connect it to its history and views.
"The brick reinforces our own determined appreciation for the house's original brickwork," Dunin notes. "And the beams reference the old gnarled Mallee river red-gum eucalyptus at the rear of the property. Its bent form mirrors the form of the ceiling, almost like branches."
To look at the house now is to view it in tandem to its place. Floor-to-ceiling windows in an open living area unveil a green canopy outdoors, while an angled timber deck—interspersed with trees that will one day grow as tall as the others—complement the form and look of the ceiling back inside.
The home is unmistakably tied to its surroundings, a renovation that Dunin calls "a direct reflection." That was the point, after all. "It is a rich mix of materials, textures, and customized detail," she says.