“Marlborough” and “Malvern” are a pair of semi detached houses of local heritage significance. Described as “an excellent two-storey federation style semi-detached of a highly individual design.” Constructed 1902. The significance is described as “A very unusual example of the Federation style with considerable architectural and aesthetic interest. Excellent detailing and overall, hardly altered.”
Despite being 117 years old, the original building is in remarkable, original condition so required little work. On the ground floor, a double arched recessed portico leads to a wide entry hall, and twin formal front rooms, with ornate plasterwork, marble fireplaces and cedar bi folding doors. Further to the rear a disconnected 1980’s addition containing kitchen, family room and laundry offered little amenity or access to the garden. At the end of the hall an imposing cedar stair, winds around a void and provides access at mid landing to a small side balcony and toilet. The landing further winds around to access a bathroom and bedroom at the rear on a lower level beneath a gable shared with its neighbour. Two large bedrooms are accessed via a secondary hall also leading to an original enclosed room over the portico.
The alterations remove the ground level rooms at the rear and provide a new one and two storey extension in a similar location. On the ground level a new living space and kitchen wrap around a services core. A new internal opening connects the existing front rooms with the new living room, and garden. On the upper level a new bedroom replaces the balcony. The existing bathroom was refurbished, while a robe and ensuite, within the exiting enclosed room at the front, services the front bedroom. The existing roof space is converted into a study.
The new work takes cues from the solidity, weight and proportion of the existing building along with the fine craftmanship of the decorative brickwork, plasterwork and leadlight glazing. Our aim was to stitch contemporary and historic spaces together. The sculptural western wall bellows out as if capturing and holding air from within and protrudes into the garden culminating in a twisting corbelled bay window with a 4m high steel framed window within a deep brick reveal tapering to 15mm at its edges. The space also extends toward the street with a vertical steel window over two storeys, only just visible from the street.
Floor and ceiling levels step down to encircle the garden and pool. Skylights and openings create an evenness of light through the depth of the plan and provide passive cross ventilation. Fine stucco render is edged with black brickwork in reference to the black brick detailing of the existing façade.
In one of our first meetings, our clients mentioned their mother works with ceramics. This resonated with my own interest in that craft, and to me this work is a vessel of sorts, a finely crafted yet solid form holding light and air steeped in the tradition of the masters that forged before us.