A Flourishing Garden Grows Inside This Glass-Roofed Melbourne Victorian

A Flourishing Garden Grows Inside This Glass-Roofed Melbourne Victorian

By Anna Squier
Austin Maynard Architects turns a typical Melbourne terrace house into a light-filled home with a bright-green heart.

Melbourne’s terrace homes are stunning examples of residential architecture, but they often suffer from one major problem—a lack of natural light. When the owners of a dark and cramped Victorian in the suburb of Carlton sought to dramatically improve their home on a tight budget, they turned to Austin Maynard Architects.

The Newry House is situated among a row of terrace homes in Melbourne, Australia. From the street front, the home’s original character remains intact.

The firm left the front and rear of the Newry House largely untouched while reconfiguring the dark and poorly laid out midsection through a "keyhole surgery." The result is an open kitchen, dining, and living area that brings garden greenery inside.

What was once a small dining area has been opened up into a bright kitchen, living, and dining space.

A garden is integrated into a green bench seat, optimizing space in the dining area while drawing the outdoors in.

As stated by the architects, "In a space that is already tight, the question was, why take away indoor space to capture outdoor space? Instead, we focused on the conservatory idea—a glass house which brings the outdoors inside, with responsive sliding shade awnings to shield from too much sun."

The existing dining room ceiling and a leafy roof deck outside the main bedroom were demolished. In their place, a large pitched glass roof with sliding awnings was installed, completely transforming this once dark and cramped terrace home.

Responsive sliding shade awnings shield the interior from too much sun. In seconds, the shades can be remotely closed to provide almost 100% protection from UV rays.

Thanks to the introduction of a glass roof, the main living spaces are now filled with an abundance of natural light and plantings that are directly integrated with the interiors. The subdued color palette of white and warm wood tones is accented by bold pops of color that create surprising moments of delight. 

What was once a closed-off kitchen has been transformed into an efficient cooking and dining space complete with simple wood cabinets, sleek fixtures, and black accents. A mirrored backsplash reflects light, making this open space feel even larger.

The home’s modest finish palette is accented with pops of color. The deep burgundy carpet in the entrance hallway is mirrored by the sofa in the living room and accented by rich blue side chairs.

In addition to opening up the space, the firm replaced the old timber floor with a thermally efficient, hydronically heated concrete slab. Simple building skin modifications, such as refitting the doors and windows, have taken this early ’90s home from breezy and cold to thermally sound.

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To maximize functionality in the compact space, the staircase, kitchen, and storage area were all combined into one unit. Simple wood joinery conceals integrated storage below the wood stair treads and the perforated steel screen.

At the top of the perforated steel staircase is a surprising pop of color. A vivid green section marks the point where the metal railing meets the colorful carpeting. The bold green tone is a nod to the garden and bench seat below.

A flexible loft space at the top of the stairs doubles as a sleeping area when the curtain is closed, and a playroom for the kids. Skylights and punched window openings allow natural light to filter into these upper-level living spaces

Throughout the project, the architects followed an ideology of design better, not bigger. Through a relatively simple intervention, this small family home has been dramatically transformed into a warm and bright dwelling complete with its own private garden.

The Newry House is all about playful moments of discovery and delight for this growing family.

A Tesla battery ensures the home performs well—and allows it to pump excess green energy back into the grid.

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