A Sleek Addition Lets a Melbourne Home and Garden Freely Merge

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By Melissa Dalton / Published by Dwell
Zen Architects replace a poor-quality extension from the '80s with one that celebrates natural materials and outdoor connection.

When an existing Victorian home sited in the Botanic Gardens precinct of inner Melbourne needed a revamp to better access light and views, Zen Architects had just the solution—a 1,453-square-foot addition. The team envisioned an extension that would "utilize the concepts of living in a garden and gathering under a roof." Scroll ahead to see the fascinating results of what Zen Architects refer to as Project Nymph.

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During the renovation, the front facade and 538-square-foot original home, which was built around 1900, was all kept intact.

During the renovation, the front facade and 538-square-foot original home, which was built around 1900, was all kept intact.

At the rear of the property, the team added a two-story extension, which included this open-concept kitchen and dining area, as well as bathrooms, bedrooms, and a lounge area.

At the rear of the property, the team added a two-story extension, which included this open-concept kitchen and dining area, as well as bathrooms, bedrooms, and a lounge area.

Now, a catwalk connects the two bedrooms upstairs without impeding the flow of light in the main area. The staircase is composed of structural steel with a painted finish, and features blackbutt treads and handrails.

Now, a catwalk connects the two bedrooms upstairs without impeding the flow of light in the main area. The staircase is composed of structural steel with a painted finish, and features blackbutt treads and handrails.

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The warm wood provides a stark contrast to the cool, grey interiors.

The warm wood provides a stark contrast to the cool, grey interiors.

Outside, a timber pergola shades the garden and the split-stone slate pavers continue on for a greater sense of connection between inside and out.

Outside, a timber pergola shades the garden and the split-stone slate pavers continue on for a greater sense of connection between inside and out.

This view shows how the original house relates to the new addition, which was strategically placed to make room for an exterior courtyard.

This view shows how the original house relates to the new addition, which was strategically placed to make room for an exterior courtyard.

In the dining room, a vintage dining set is offset by the painted brick wall of the original house. Lowered ceilings in the eating area provide an intimate setting within the larger space.

In the dining room, a vintage dining set is offset by the painted brick wall of the original house. Lowered ceilings in the eating area provide an intimate setting within the larger space.

A view of the catwalk leading to the bedroom. Blackbutt ceiling slats relate to the exterior pergola.

A view of the catwalk leading to the bedroom. Blackbutt ceiling slats relate to the exterior pergola.

The wall and bedroom door are fashioned from a compressed fiber-cement sheet made by CSR, which is called Barestone.

The wall and bedroom door are fashioned from a compressed fiber-cement sheet made by CSR, which is called Barestone.

In an upstairs bedroom, striking triangular cabinetry is built into the Victorian home's attic.

In an upstairs bedroom, striking triangular cabinetry is built into the Victorian home's attic.

Bathroom finishes are an inversion of the darker palette in the main spaces, using a white, reconstituted stone counter atop a laminate cabinet with blackbutt shelves and brass faucets.

Bathroom finishes are an inversion of the darker palette in the main spaces, using a white, reconstituted stone counter atop a laminate cabinet with blackbutt shelves and brass faucets.


Project Credits:

Architects: Zen Architects / @zenarchitects

Builder: Dome Building Projects

Structural Engineer: Tim Gibney and Associates

Landscape Design: Lucy Williams Architect

Lighting Design: Light Project

Photographer: Derek Swalwell

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