The Victorian heritage facade belies the ultra modern rear extension to this home that delivers light and space in equal measure.
As is characteristic of original Victorian terrace houses, the corridor of this home in Melbourne was dark and dim before it landed in the lap of architect Charlie Inglis. The most obvious and immediate fix was a lick of white paint, but it was the creation of an interior glass-enclosed courtyard at the end of the hall that proved most effective. At its centre is a lone Ginkgo tree and ‘living fossil’ (its species dates back to prehistoric times), its fan-like leaves growing slowly yet surely. Perched at the junction between the existing house and the new addition, the courtyard sweeps light into both the hallway and the extension.
When owners Chris and Felicity Wilkins bought the house it was dated and tired. A renovation was always on the cards but the couple were committed to living in it first to get a sense of how it would function with their young family. “It was important because it allowed us to understand shadow lines and what areas were going to get sun and, ultimately, how much of the back to chop off so we didn’t jeopardise the outdoor living area in terms of extending the building too far.”
By the time work began two years later, Chris and Felicity knew how they wanted their house to operate and had a file of clippings referencing the look and feel. “Charlie is a mate and I had been keen to work with him for a while,” says Chris, a property developer. “We were all on the same wavelength but he went on to deliver beyond our expectations. That’s the benefit of having a good architect. He had ideas that we certainly hadn’t thought of – particularly around finishes and materials.”
A heritage home, the front facade had to be retained but Charlie went the extra mile to ensure that from the street there was no indication as to the breadth of the addition. The back elevation is starkly modern, the robust linear composition of bricks by Petersen Tegl of Denmark bearing the hallmarks of Brutalist design. “We commonly use this construction material as it’s handmade and shows how a building has literally been crafted brick by brick. It highlights the imperfections and adds character,” says Charlie.
To soften the thickness of the building, planter boxes were inserted into the ‘folds’, framing the views of the master bedroom and its balcony on the first floor. “A mirrored stainless steel parapet