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

 

Heritage renovations in densely populated urban contexts are a dime a dozen these days. Maximising the yield and opportunity of the existing block through a smart extension is more often than not a primary objective while maintaining the respect for the original frontage. It’s an approach I like to refer to as an ‘architectural mullet’ – business in the front, party in the back.

Recently transformed by RITZ&GHOUGASSIAN, Highbury Grove House in Melbourne’s inner suburb of Prahran is defined by a street frontage of uniform federation style cottages which are set in predictable, orthogonal rows and folded in amongst leafy suburb gardens. The ‘business in the front’.

The architect duo has addressed the building’s laneway that runs along the northern side of the property by creating an architectural envelope that orientates the house to the north while maintaining privacy to the public laneway. They’ve partly achieved this by selecting a single material which has been applied with gusto to the entire new envelope – elegantly proportioned concrete blockwork.

The distinctive character and ornate form of the original house are expressed as a crisp silhouette that sits in perfect tension with the heritage façade. Spotted gum boards replace a decaying timber flooring structure, and original fireplaces, previously neglected and stripped of their ornamentation were cleaned up, and new hearths placed at their feet.

And then there is the all-important ‘party in the back’. “The connection between the heritage architecture and the new addition is expressed as a singular moment cast in shadow,” explain Gilad Ritz and Jean-Paul Ghougassian, founders of the architecture studio in charge of the design. “The user is squeezed into close contact with concrete walls, causing shortness of breath before a step up into a large hollow volume of open air and light. A catharsis for the senses.”

 

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 new extension is clearly defined by a series of heavy-set concrete blockwork walls. Two overlapping planes – the first one running the length of the site, sitting below the second set that runs perpendicular to the first – rest upon one another to delineate the various rooms that make up the extension, such as living, dining, kitchen, bedroom and ensuite. “The apertures between the walls create framed views outwards to neighbouring trees or to courtyard garden of swamp banksia and Australian tree ferns,” said the architects.

The floor is finished in burnished concrete, creating the perfect foundation for the masonry composition to rest upon. As a subtle link to the flooring in the front of the house, spotted gum joinery and pivot doors interrupt the uniform grid of blockwork walls, adding an element of carefully implemented warmth. The deliberately chosen expressive grain of the timber verticals adds to the cinematic quality of the overall space.

Highbury Grove House expertly offsets the ethereal medium of light and air against the heaviness and solidity of concrete walls. The changing sunlight dances across a tightly edited spectrum of surfaces, creating an expansive movement throughout space. It’s a proper old-fashioned party of light, proportion and materials, delivering one of the best looking ‘architectural mullets’ I’ve seen in ages.

 

See more projects by Ritz&Ghougassian on Yellowtrace.

 

 


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

 

About The Author

Dana Tomić Hughes
Founder & Editor
Google+

Dana is an award-winning interior designer living in Sydney, Australia. With an unhealthy passion for design, Dana commits to an abnormal amount of daily design research. Regular travel and attendance at premier design events, enables Dana to stay at the forefront of the design world globally. While she is super serious about design, Dana never takes herself - nor design - too seriously. Together with her life and business partner, Dana is Boss Lady at Studio Yellowtrace, specialising in Design Strategy, Creative Direction and Special Projects. The studio takes a highly conceptual and holistic approach to translating brands & ideas into places & experiences.

3 Responses

Leave a Reply