The Melbourne suburb of Albert Park isn’t known for its bold extensions or renovations. Packed full of quaint heritage homes, the additions here are most often black-clad two-storey boxes carefully tucked behind the Edwardian or Victorian brick facade. But this Albert Park home is fortunate to back onto a wide laneway which meant it could enjoy more creative freedom than most. AdeB Architects took on this design opportunity structurally, challenging the status quo with an elliptical-shaped extension clad in a pleated perforated aluminium screen. Inside, Mim Design followed suit while being mindful of the occupant’s young clan – a design challenge we’ve seen the studio champion time and time again on est. What’s emanated from their collaborative efforts is a home elevated far beyond its tired old state.
Director of AdeB Architects Alfred de Bruyne was certain they wanted the primary facade to be orientated to the north. “Having the extension on the diagonal also help[ed] to break away from the traditional approach with a glass pavilion simply added,” he said. Soon to join Alfred de Bruyne on the project was principal of Mim Design Miriam Fanning, to meet the owner’s interior brief of soft lines and generous storage areas to house all the family’s bits and bobs. “The word ‘softness’ was tempered with the word ‘robust’,” said Miriam Fanning, who worked closely with the firm’s senior interior designer Kristiina Reeve. “As a family home, we really had to make every square centimetre count,” said Kristiina, pointing out the storage area tucked under the staircase. A cocktail cabinet concealed by two-pack painted joinery also stretches the ‘envelope’.
The other important aspect of the brief was marrying the past with the present and letting each have their own voice. Developing compatibility with the new and old came down to reworking the original part of the house to a whole new layout, with new openings. What was once the front room of the house is now the parent’s retreat with the two children’s bedrooms and shared bathroom in close proximity. Here a guest power room is also tucked off the main passage, with the other high-traffic areas such as the laundry and walk-in pantry.
“It’s clearly a contemporary home, but there’s not that sharp division between old and new. Here, it’s more a case of working with a Victorian home and making it feel comfortable for a growing family.”
– Principal of Mim Design, Miriam Fanning
Mim Design were all about embracing the curvaceous extension at the rear from the inside. This is best seen in the bathrooms with the circular walls (featuring soft-edged mirrors) and the grand staircase which sweeps around the dining and living area below. To enhance the sculptural forms, shadow lines appear on the edge of walls. In the living area, gentle curves are beautifully expressed in the stone fireplace and in the kitchen, rounded edges soften the kitchen island bench topped in marble, and all of the timber joinery.
Designing for a family, Mim Design didn’t want the furnishings to be chosen just for their ‘child-proof’ quality. Well-versed in designing for a family, Mim Design have spoilt the home with furnishings both sophisticated and fitting to the child-friendly brief. The home also hosts plenty of parent-friendly spaces for quiet time such as the built-in day beds. So too does it offer a highly detailed master bedroom for them to retreat to, featuring timber and perforated mesh cupboards framed by classic Victorian-style mouldings. Mim’s eye for detail is also demonstrated in the selection of hard-wearing materials used for family living – namely the limed Scandinavian oak on the ceiling and polished concrete floors – help to encourage the flow of the home and solidify the home’s durability.
Within a small, inner-city footprint, Mim Design and AdeB Architects have brought us an Albert Park home that “punches well above its weight”, with a level of detail we will never seize to appreciate.