Herald Sun - Property

Architects go up and beyond for a dream

Transforme­d “cream-brick house” now a vision in red, writes Samantha Landy


Red feature walls, a message in Braille on the front door, and bedrooms with “adaptation­s of Chinese moon gates”. These are some of the surprising design features that lay behind the tree-enveloped exterior of architects Howard and Poh Raggatt’s longtime Eaglemont home.

Ms Raggatt said she and her husband — the founding director of ARM Architectu­re, best known for designing Canberra’s National Museum of Australia and redevelopi­ng Hamer Hall — bought the abode in 1987 as “one of those cream-brick houses with a flat roof”.

“Howard grew up in the area, his dad lived just up the hill,” said Ms Raggatt, who has now retired from architectu­re.

“We had been living in Fitzroy North. Straight away, the difference­s between there and Eaglemont were vast. It was so nice to have parks and green spaces — we loved it.”

They moved in when their children — Mark (who is now also an architect), Naomi and Anni — were all aged below seven, and enjoyed it as it was for about 13 years.

In 2000, the Raggatts joined forces to create

the eye-catching three-level home that stands today. Ms Raggatt said they essentiall­y worked within the 1964-built residence’s original footprint, but gutted the interior, reconfigur­ed the floorplan and added an extra storey.

“We used to climb up a ladder from the balcony, sit on the flat roof with a cup of tea and enjoy the view,” she said. “So we thought we should add on a level.

“And at the time, the (ARM Architectu­re) office was working on the National Museum, where they used a lot of colour. I suppose that carried through to our renovation.”

Perhaps the most striking use of colour is on show in the open-plan top floor, where a softer colour palette in the kitchen and dining space makes way for red walls in the living area.

Also inspired by the museum project, the pair incorporat­ed Braille on the facade and front door, Ms Raggatt said. The text on the latter reads “God loves” in the shape of a cross.

Her Malaysian-Chinese background influenced the design as well, including in her daughters’ bedrooms.

“In old Chinese homes, the beds had walls with a portal you go through,” she said. “So both girls’ rooms had a cut out, an adaptation of a Chinese moon gate.”

Ms Raggatt expected to miss “the view from my bed … looking out to tall trees” the most, as well as a breakfast nook off the kitchen where, “every morning, we’d have our cup of tea”.

Saying goodbye to the establishe­d garden, featuring “a wisteria we’ve nursed over the years” and a cypress tree that had “doubled” in size, would also be tough, she said.

But now their kids had moved out, the time had come for her and her husband to swap their family house for a smaller city base to alternate with their Mornington Peninsula farm.

Miles Real Estate director Stewart Oldmeadow said the large house had a “warm, relaxed feel” while also oozing “wow factor”.

It offers indoor and outdoor living spaces on every level, and a kitchen with Corian and stainless-steel surfaces and European appliances. There’s also a main bedroom with a walk-in wardrobe and an ensuite, and right-ofway access into a three-car garage at the rear.

“The view’s amazing, too — it’s almost like sitting up in a tree canopy,” Mr Oldmeadow said. “And it can’t be built out.”

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