architecture_melbourne _6


Three Stories North House

In its most recent incar­na­tion, Three Sto­ries North is an untra­di­tion­al fam­i­ly home that embraces its lay­ered his­to­ry. Work­ing with cre­ative clients, the design approach is informed by their ini­tial belief that beneath its pre­vi­ous ren­o­va­tions the building’s indus­tri­al her­itage is quite unique. The project’s pri­ma­ry objec­tive is to realise its exist­ing poten­tial rather than replace it with some­thing entire­ly new.

The design is first and fore­most a process of reduc­tion to allow the char­ac­ter of the orig­i­nal build­ing to be the pri­ma­ry fea­ture. A key com­po­nent of this is to retain and reveal the mason­ry con­struc­tion giv­ing the home an unde­ni­able ware­house feel. Many orig­i­nal details such as arched doors and fire­places are main­tained in work­ing order. Where pos­si­ble the imper­fec­tion of the brick walls are cel­e­brat­ed as an indi­ca­tion of their his­to­ry. At a few points glaz­ing is used to fill gaps in the mason­ry to clear­ly delin­eate what is orig­i­nal and what is new. At the ground lev­el, the orig­i­nal tim­ber ceil­ings are also exposed. 

Once two sep­a­rate town­hous­es, the space is bisect­ed by a mason­ry wall across all three sto­ries which forms the axis for cir­cu­la­tion. The lev­els are joined by a stair which hangs from this wall, inspired by an indus­tri­al fire stair. Divid­ing the plan per­pen­dic­u­lar­ly, a cen­tral core forms a chim­ney-like fea­ture which extends through a 9m high sky­light while pro­vid­ing join­ery ele­ments to each of the spaces. With­in the three-dimen­sion­al cross sec­tion, half of the house if zoned for pub­lic spaces, a quar­ter to more inti­mate spaces and the remain­ing quar­ter forms the dra­mat­ic void which con­nects the three sto­ries and entry.

The con­sid­er­able inter­nal space is prac­ti­cal­ly indis­cernible from the unas­sum­ing tra­di­tion­al exte­ri­or. The entry is set back from the orig­i­nal façade cre­at­ing an entry court­yard and allow­ing a 3‑storey glass façade to bring a sub­stan­tial amount of light into the spaces as well as open­ing up to a large tree canopy in the streetscape. A large door is fash­ioned from 140-year-old tim­ber joists repur­posed from the demolition.

As a bal­ance to the larg­er archi­tec­tur­al spaces, the liv­ing spaces are much more inti­mate, char­ac­terised by sub­tle colours, tex­ture and plush soft fur­nish­ings. Rough sawn tim­ber lines the walls and recy­cled tim­ber cre­ates join­ery adding warmth. Strong black detail­ing in the new areas cre­ate a dis­tinct­ly mod­ern con­trast to the brick­work of the orig­i­nal build­ing while link­ing to the indus­tri­al character. 

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