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Good for family, good for neighbourhood

When going up messes with the local house vocabulary and neighbours' views, well, there's another way – this renovation/expansion adds a distinct rear volume that also heads underground

Designed by Matthew Murfett and Melissa Lim, Mitsuori Architects

From the renovating architects:

This renovation/extension to a freestanding Victorian home in Northcote is about how the design of a home can help strengthen our sense of identity and belonging to influence how families interact and come together. 

The design of this project began in 2014 and was meticulously owner built by our homeowner over several years. 

When we were first engaged for this renovation/expansion the owner and his new partner wanted to create a home for themselves and for four children of varying ages. 

The design concept focused on ‘family’ and heightening occupant experience of the intangible qualities of spaces to draw people in and help them to feel like they belong together under one roof.

Two main communal spaces are designed to draw people intuitively/naturally together in different ways. 


The main kitchen/dining room is a voluminous, light filled space designed to encourage incidental interaction between family members and be used as a loose communal work/studio. 

A separate lounge space is tucked into the heritage section of the house and is intended to be a cosy social space separated from but not isolated from the main heart of the home. 

A new entry was added at the side of the house to bring people to its centre and allow for the creation of private bedroom zones. 

Private spaces within this home are designed to create a sense of security and retreat. 

These are zoned for parents and children of different ages – at the front of the existing house a parent’s bedroom is positioned near the younger children’s bedrooms which feature small lofts designed to make them interesting children retreats.

At the opposite end of the house, bedrooms for older children are accommodated below ground. 

These are more private subterranean spaces, designed to create a sense of independence and separation. 

A key aim of the design was to add to the existing building without compromising the streetscape or amenity to the neighbouring properties. 

The site is surrounded by homes set on compact blocks with open rear gardens abutting the property. 

We decided that a double storey addition in this context would compromise the outlook and privacy of neighbours. 

Our design proposed a main living level at grade and another bedroom level below ground to minimise visual bulk and maximise solar access to the new and existing parts of the building. 

The result is a light-filled pavilion that bridges between the existing heritage home and garden, and the more private subterranean bedrooms areas below. 

The angular roof form was then sculpted to bring in afternoon sun and reflect it off the plywood lined interior to achieve a warm, light filled internal living zone. 

The junction between old and new is fully glazed and treated as an unequivocal transition point between the two, allowing natural light into parts of the existing building, with the old red brick external wall becoming a backdrop to the new addition. 

A stair appears to descend alongside the existing building into the basement below. 

This simple design element and the excavation of the basement directly beside the existing house brought with it a series of build challenges which were resolved keenly by the design team. 

Passive solar design and natural thermal regulation of spaces is an inherent but discreet part of this design. 

Through the design process we sought to preserve the integrity of the existing home and create new spaces that improve functionality and experience so that each member of this new family could find their place.

Credit list

Kitchen designer & interior designer
Mitsuori Architects
Cladding
Austral Premium AC plywood (19mm) (exterior), A-Bond, Super E0 Emissions; Cemintel 9mm Express Panel
Windows/doors/skylights
AWS Elevate
Main flooring
CCC Polished Concrete slab with 10mm bluestone aggregate, polished to 'Nil Exposure'
Wallcoverings
Austral Premium AC plywood (9mm) (interior), C-Bond, E0 Emissions
Feature lighting
Opinin Ciatti Con Tradition, from Space Furniture; Roll and Hill, from Jason Miller Studio
Builder
Owner builder
Landscape designer
Andrew Plant Landscape Design
Roofing
Lysaght Spandek in Surfmist
Skylight
Velux
Bathroom tiles
Lapege light basalt (600x600)
Paint
Resene Whisper White
Awards
Trends International Design Awards (TIDA) Homes – Runner Up

Designed by: Mitsuori Architects

Story by: Trendsideas

Photography by: Michael Kai

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