An artist and his wife convert an historic structure into a 1,000-square-foot getaway.
After years of searching for a retreat of their own, a family found this secluded site on the northwest edge of Australia’s Phillip Island. It was a pastoral spec of land two hours from Melbourne and bounded by wetlands. The property featured a 20th century chicory kiln: a cedar-clad concrete structure once used to dry the vegetable of the same name. The clients wanted to convert the kiln into a structure where rooms—even the main staircase—could be adjusted according to changing needs. Architect Andrew Simpson answered this request for “open-endedness,” as he calls it, while respecting historical preservation guidelines for the facade. Complicating factors, the building was not in good shape: walls were crumbling and cross-ventilation to combat the heat was scarce. Simpson resolved these issues by honoring what could be saved and prescribing new, simple features that made the building into a viable home.