Abstract House

For a growing family in Albert Park, Melbourne this south facing  double fronted Victorian ‘deceased estate’  required opening up to light along with better zoning and connection with their private open space.

The formal arrangement of the house was largely influenced by the clients accommodation requirements and a planning context that included neighbours with deep extensions to the rear high walls on the boundary. 

The new program is organised around a north facing central courtyard which allows deep penetration of northern light and overlooks the re-built salvaged brick wall of the rear side of the existing dwelling and  garden.

The house is designed to reveal a distinct sequence of spaces and to forge a clear relationship between inside and outside. The layout is zoned so that formal spaces are located within the original front 4 rooms where the Victorian detail has been restored whilst the rear caters for the main family functions at the ground level with family sleeping spaces housed upstairs.

The new works are externally conceived as an assemblage of abstract geometric shapes and are somewhat reminiscent of the formal and material simplicity of early European modernist houses – which may have been partly inspired by client’s original scrapbook of images.

Adapted here to meet the Australian climate and passive solar principles the interior spaces are opened up to interact seamlessly with the exterior. These forms and material textures (including red brick which coordinates and continues the ‘form’ of the heritage dwelling along the east boundary and black zinc) continue internally and help designate and define certain programmatic functions within the house. Whilst the white plaster of the interior manoeuvres externally along with floor materials and joinery elements to dissolve notions of interior and exterior and enable spaces that provide greater connection with garden and the full extents of the site. 

The composition of the series of internal spaces is carefully considered with an emphasis on refinement of detail. The result is that spaces enjoy various ceiling heights-vertical compression and expansion and contain flexibility to open up and close down depending on season and functionality.

Dark coloured floor and ceiling elements help to break down the harshness of the often underestimated Australian light and the tactility of the natural material palate effect a powerful contrast with the smoothness of the more polished nature of glass, mirror and marble. 

Extensive white wall space and a limited palate of materials allow for the clients art collection and furnishing to layer and adorn fixed materials and surfaces.   

The tactility of the natural material palate, the distressed salvaged and  unfinished nature of the existing and neighbours buildings brickwork  and the texture of the garden effect a powerful contrast with the smoothness of the more polished nature of the glass, mirror and marble. 

The resultant interior, intrinsically connected with its architecture is presents itself as an interwoven composition of material and form, internal and external space, vertical and horizontal volume, abstract space and domestic program.  

Photography by Shannon McGrath

Architecture and Interior Design by Matt Gibson Architecture + Design

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