Highbury Grove House by RITZ&GHOUGASSIAN | Yellowtrace

Highbury Grove House by RITZ&GHOUGASSIAN | Yellowtrace

Highbury Grove House by RITZ&GHOUGASSIAN | Yellowtrace

Highbury Grove House by RITZ&GHOUGASSIAN | Yellowtrace

Highbury Grove House by RITZ&GHOUGASSIAN | Yellowtrace

 

As is often the case with residential renovations, architects are required to think through a myriad of issues – heritage street frontages, assimilation of the new ‘box’ hopefully not merely plonked on the back, addressing how to integrate the existing space and the new, making the new build sit in sharp contrast to the existing surrounds or to have it sit in harmony. The list is endless.

Highbury Grove in Prahran is one such residence. It is defined by a street frontage of uniform federation style cottages set in orthogonal rows and folded in amongst leafy suburban gardens. The architects, Melbourne-based Ritz&Ghougassian were required to manage the heritage street frontage whilst retaining the privacy of the public laneway to the northern side of the property. They responded by creating an architectural envelope that orientates to the north. The original character and detailed heritage front has been expressed as a singular, white silhouette. Spotted gum flooring throughout the residence replaced the decaying timber flooring structure and the neglected fireplaces were cleaned up and new hearths replaced.

“The connection between the heritage architecture and the new addition is expressed as a singular moment cast in shadow,” said the architects.

The spaces are loosely defined by a series of perpendicular heavy-set concrete blockwork walls. The first, a set of walls running the length of the site sit below a second set that align themselves to the northern aspect. Resting upon one another the concrete walls overlap and enclose the architectural space within. A burnished concrete slab provides the foundation for this masonry whilst the most elegant, steel lintels to the underside and tops of walls allows the user to read the tectonics and dynamism of the space.

 

See more projects by Ritz&Ghougassian on Yellowtrace.

 

Highbury Grove House by RITZ&GHOUGASSIAN | Yellowtrace

Highbury Grove House by RITZ&GHOUGASSIAN | Yellowtrace

Highbury Grove House by RITZ&GHOUGASSIAN | Yellowtrace

Highbury Grove House by RITZ&GHOUGASSIAN | Yellowtrace

 

The use of spotted gum on the floor is mirrored in the joinery. And pivot doors insert themselves in amongst the uniform concrete blockwork walls. “The strong fiddle-back grain of the eucalyptus panels creates a series of figures that cascade across the joinery. Each panel presenting itself as a photographic slide that when combined morphs into a cinematic expression of a larger figurative movement,” explain the architects.

The project contrasts the medium of light and air against the heaviness of the concrete walls. The overlapping of the walls creates a loosely defined volume, holding air momentarily at any given time.

“Light dances across a broad spectrum of surfaces, creating an expansive movement through space. The user is squeezed into close contact with the concrete walls, causing a shortness of breath before a step up into a large hollow volume of open air and light. A catharsis for the senses,” share the architects.

Whilst the interior is stunning, it is the deliberate integration with the botanical elements they’ve created externally that gives this house a rich layering of sensory delight. The apertures between the walls create framed views outwards towards neighbouring trees or to a courtyard garden of swamp banksia and Australian tree ferns.

 

See more projects by Ritz&Ghougassian on Yellowtrace.

 

 


[Images courtesy of RITZ&GHOUGASSIAN. Photography by Tom Blachford.]

 

About The Author

Susanna McArdle

Susanna has a background in Interior Architecture and a passion for writing. Based in Sydney, she has worked both in Asia and Australia designing. An avid writer, it’s hard to know what she prefers more, stringing words together or creating spaces. But one thing she does know, is that she loves doing the both together.

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