This Playful Melbourne Home Sports a Roof Like a Mountain Range

This Playful Melbourne Home Sports a Roof Like a Mountain Range

By Anna Squier
Two neighboring homes fuse together to form one courtyard residence with a jagged roof that’s full of hidden delights for a family of five.

The homeowners of a terrace house in the Melbourne suburb of North Fitzroy were preparing to renovate and extend their historic home when the house next door came on the market. What ensued was an unconventional—but thoroughly logical—project which combined two properties into a distinctive home and garden for a family of five.

The adjacent home for sale was structurally unsound, calling to be demolished. However, a heritage overlay dictated that the street frontages of the two properties needed to remain intact. It was then Austin Maynard Architects’ task to create a playful family home which would combine the fronts of the two pre-existing terrace homes. 

The new home, called RaeRae House, incorporates the fronts of two pre-existing terrace homes. A glazed entry, slightly set back between the buildings, unites the two and creates the front entry to the conjoined residence.

RaeRae House makes an impactful first impression with a jagged roofline, much unlike its neighbors. According to the architects, "Initially it looks to be a fanciful design, an architectural mountain range, but at its core, the house is responsive and strategic." The RaeRae House is just that: contextual and reactive in both exterior and interior elements that blend adult- and child-centric living with a garden escape. 

The architects were able to analyze the sun's patterns and how they would impact shadows across the garden and adjacent properties, creating the unique roof form.

The shadow cast by the roofline resembles a series of mountain peaks. 

All elements of the home emerged from careful planning, including the roof, which was a direct reaction to surrounding conditions. "In creating height in all the areas, both internally and externally, the mountain profile emerged," say the architects. The roofline is low against adjacent gardens to avoid overshadowing, and in contrast high where neighbors are close to the property line. 

The architects knew the roof would be clearly visible within the neighborhood, so they opted to use slate for its beautiful aesthetic.

Exterior brickwork blends with timber-framed openings and crafted metal awnings. Per the architects, "It is a strategic way of thinking about structure which ensures budgets are met, yet also leads to a diverse aesthetic." 

The exterior materials are simple and refined. Brickwork and timber-framed openings meet minimal, structural steel awnings, significantly reducing construction cost while also creating a unique pattern and material beauty to display.

Large openings directly connect the interior living spaces with the garden. A thin metal canopy includes a special detail on which items can hang.

Inside, flexible rooms and hidden sliding doors allow the clients to partition off spaces to be intimate and secluded, or open them up to be communal and free-flowing. "The occupants can be engaged and connected, or alone and private," say the architects. "They have ‘both/and,’ not ‘either/or.’"

A spiral staircase leads to a bathroom and three bedrooms above. A perforated steel landing connects the bedrooms above and bridges a double-height main living space.

The three kids' bedrooms feature full-height sliding panels which allow the siblings to open their rooms to one another or close the panels to be private.

Special moments are integrated throughout the home which provide function for both the parents and kids. Here, a deep window doubles as a reading nook.

The "rumpus" and craft rooms hide a range of secrets—pin-boards, blackboards, sliding doors, cubby holes, and toy storage. A ladder in the study leads to extra storage space or a place for the kids to hide.

A glazed entry, set back between the two historic fronts, unites the two and forms the entrance to the new family home. A lounge, kitchen, and dining room are present upon entry. Beyond the dining room is a two-story kids zone, known as the "Rumpus Room," with three bedrooms and a bathroom accessed via a spiral stair

The new entry joins the two historic facades. The original brick exterior of one home remains, a gentle nod to the pre-existing conditions and architecture.

In the kitchen, there is a hidden pantry, appliance storage shelves, and a food prep area. A slide-away glass backsplash reveals additional cooking gadgets behind.

Simple wood joinery provides a nice backdrop to the muted dining area while also discreetly concealing a bathroom behind and within. A salt-and-pepper finish on the concrete slab carries throughout the main floor plan. 

The kids have a dedicated craft and study area, designed to allow for carefree, creative mess as well as quiet study time.

Shop the Look

Above the kitchen is the parents’ bedroom with a walk-in closet and en-suite. Instead of the usual request for a quiet hideaway, the homeowners requested the master suite be at the very center of the house. Here, the parents have the opportunity to engage with the activity below or retreat to a private suite by closing large sliding doors.  

Located above the kitchen, the master bedroom feels like its own retreat with vaulted ceilings, colorful accents, and a bathtub positioned in an angled nook.

The master suite follows an open concept with the bath open to the sleeping area. A freestanding tub pairs with a wood-and-Corian vanity.

The floor plan opens to the public spaces. Large openings and windows engage with the public street, neighbors, and central garden. The orientation of the home along the southern boundary maximizes passive solar gain, ensuring a sunny garden with minimal shadows. 

The main living space is open and bright with large openings that embrace the garden. An interior courtyard separates the main living space from a guest suite, which occupies the original front of one of the terrace homes.

Living spaces face the sunny northern garden while storage and service spaces are located to the south of the plan.

The house directly engages with the street through direct access, large openings, and windows.

The new house embraces the dual frontage potential of the lot, stretching from street to street. On the rear, a garage and second living space open to the street.

RaeRae House is a playful family home which pairs rational thinking with inventive solutions to blend old and new into a single dwelling with lots of character.

RaeRae House Main Floor Plan

RaeRae House Upper Floor Plan


RaeRae House Building Diagram

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