A 19th-Century Terrace House in Melbourne Echoes the Spirit of Italian Villas
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A 19th-Century Terrace House in Melbourne Echoes the Spirit of Italian Villas

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By Michele Koh Morollo
Originally built for historic figure Samuel Lazarus, a heritage home in North Fitzroy features extensions blending home and garden after the style of Italian villas.

Formerly home to a well-known, 19th-century financier named Samuel Lazarus, a heritage terrace house in the Melbourne suburb of North Fitzroy was given a modern makeover by Andrew Simpson Architects and landscaping firm Renata Fairhall Garden Designs. Hatherlie, as the home is called, features a series of overlapping additions that blur the boundaries between architecture and landscaping.

The ornate facade of the renovated, 6,130-square-foot Hatherlie was restored, while the architects demolished the mid-20th century additions to the center of the property and a section of an old "stable" near the rear boundary.

The ornate facade of the renovated, 6,130-square-foot Hatherlie was restored, while the architects demolished the mid-20th century additions to the center of the property and a section of an old "stable" near the rear boundary.

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Sited on a double-width block at the bend of a street, the house has a facade of polychromatic brickwork, a smaller gabled roof that flanks the main terrace, and a front garden lined with pencil pines. 

"The geometry creates varied spatial experiences—expansion and contraction horizontally and vertically—reinforcing the series of stepped courtyards," says architect Andrew Simpson.

"The geometry creates varied spatial experiences—expansion and contraction horizontally and vertically—reinforcing the series of stepped courtyards," says architect Andrew Simpson.

The owners, who are Italophiles with an affinity for the landscapes of Tuscany where they got married, were drawn to the property because of some of its features. Its hilltop location, central courtyard and pool, and pencil pines bordering the front garden reminded them of the Italian villas of the 15th century. 

Much of the new building and interiors was constructed using natural material: cedar walls and ceiling linings, solid American oak joinery and floorboards, off-form concrete countertops and backsplashes, limestone and bluestone paving, and charred (Yakigugi) silvertop ash cladding.

Much of the new building and interiors was constructed using natural material: cedar walls and ceiling linings, solid American oak joinery and floorboards, off-form concrete countertops and backsplashes, limestone and bluestone paving, and charred (Yakigugi) silvertop ash cladding.

Taking the owners’ love for Italy into consideration, Simpson intervened with additions and expansions that loosely referenced Italian writer, humanist, and architect Leon Battista Alberti’s book Ten Books on Architecture: Of the Country House for a Gentleman; Its Various Parts, and the Proper Disposition of Each of These Parts. The treatise outlines the importance of integrating landscape into architecture.

The bold, geometric forms provide a dramatic contrast to the historical frontage.

The bold, geometric forms provide a dramatic contrast to the historical frontage.

A breezy patio features a pitched roof that offers a view of the sky.

A breezy patio features a pitched roof that offers a view of the sky.

Outdoor and interior spaces are interwoven harmoniously in this home.

Outdoor and interior spaces are interwoven harmoniously in this home.

In the place of the old stable, Simpson created an off-site parking area with a guesthouse above it that’s accessible via an external, spiral staircase. 

"Like much of the circulation through Hatherlie, this is part of a series of circuitous, lyrical pathways which reveal the house episodically," says Simpson. 

Artworks from James Makin Gallery in Collingwood, Victoria help create impactful interiors.

Artworks from James Makin Gallery in Collingwood, Victoria help create impactful interiors.

Shop the Look
Gubi Beetle Dining Chair
Gubi Beetle Dining Chair
Gubi’s Beetle is a collection of elegant and comfortable chairs, designed by Danish-Italian design duo GamFratesi. Stine Gam and Enrico Fratesi drew their inspiration for the playful chair design from the anatomy of beetles, which is apparent in the delicate, insect-like legs and hard, curved shell.

Working closely with Renata Fairhall Garden Designs, he interwove the architecture and landscaping into the heritage framework with contemporary extensions for the living, kitchen, study, laundry, and dining areas.

A fireplace serves as a boundary between the indoor and outdoor areas.

A fireplace serves as a boundary between the indoor and outdoor areas.

"The new living room extension mirrors the roof profile of the gabled roof on the front of the house, and becomes a raised platform, analogous to a hill, offering extended views to the garden. Water returns to the house as a reflection pond that brackets the new kitchen extension," says Simpson. 

A Ligne Roset Callin Lounge Chair and footstool from Domo Australia offer comfort and softness within the soaring angles of the interior.

A Ligne Roset Callin Lounge Chair and footstool from Domo Australia offer comfort and softness within the soaring angles of the interior.

An E14 Palo Floor Lamp from Living Edge creates a moment for reading.

An E14 Palo Floor Lamp from Living Edge creates a moment for reading.

An Arteriors Wahlburg Chandelier hangs over the kitchen countertop.

An Arteriors Wahlburg Chandelier hangs over the kitchen countertop.

The dining room stands in stark contrast to the light-filled kitchen.

The dining room stands in stark contrast to the light-filled kitchen.

Haterlie ground floor plan

Haterlie ground floor plan

Hatherlie first floor plan

Hatherlie first floor plan

Related Reading: An Unassuming Edwardian Saves the Best for Out Back

Project Credits: 

Architect of Record: Andrew Simpson Architects@andrewsimpsonarchitects 

Builder: Overend Constructions 

Structural Engineering: 4Sit

Landscape Design: Renata Fairhall Garden Designs / @renatafairhallgardendesigns

Furniture, Art, Object and Styling: Simone Haag  / @simonehaag