These clients came with a huge block of land in Melbourne’s Kew, with a handsome existing Victorian-era villa with ramshackle additions, and a family of six children. Our brief was to marry old and new and deliver liveable solutions.

Rob Mills

This was an exercise in creating relationships between what existed and what was introduced, in terms of proportion and materiality, while boldly inserting the determinedly new. The entrance, for example, is a passage through two cylindrical towers, which connect to glass walkways combining pure geometry with a feeling of lightness. This entry sequence sets up an expectation and mediates between heritage home and the significant contemporary additions.

“If the bones of the house and land are good, a great quality of life can be achieved by embracing the variation in scale, the character of existing materials and the intimacy that smaller rooms bring,” says Mills.

In the new scheme, the original house was used for bedrooms, music rooms and studies, where the reduced scale served the usage well. A parents’ retreat with master bedroom and formal rooms was balanced by a children’s wing with six dormitory-style bedrooms and a rumpus room. The generous kitchen/dining room was designed for everyone to gather.

The siting of the house, on land that includes a tennis court and swimming pool, ensures that even with its new spacious additions, it has room to breathe, and the proportion of built form to outdoor space is held in balance.

Taking the cue from its clients in its use of unpretentious materials such as brick and Australian hardwoods, RMA has created a house that is beautifully detailed but robust and built to last.

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