Alto by Jolson Architecture and Interiorsembodies a conscientious response to the theme of blending modern and traditional elements frequently observed in Melbourne’s inner suburbs. The concept of a fold was employed to go beyond the boundaries of a conventional brick house, curving to fit the site’s unique footprint. This architectural approach allowed for the creation of new spaces that purposefully interact with the period features of the original building while meeting the needs of a modern family.
The significant renovation retains the features which bind it to its neighbours, though, beyond the familiar red brick, an irregular play of window forms and verdant garden is a layering of texture and modernisation subtly gradated throughout the home. Inside this threshold, the arrival space is full of light. Jolson’s double-height void has been crafted to allow a moment of harmony between new and old where the spiral stair is a simple gesture to complement the original windows, intentionally positioned away from the walls to establish a meaningful interaction through its separation. A subtle shift is felt between the natural light entering through the windows and that emanating from the newly installed fixtures, strategically placed to bounce off the walls and seamlessly blend with the existing light, resulting in an indistinguishable integration.
While the interiors are pared back relative to the ornate architectural features, a different style of detailing is layered through a textured palette of finishes and furnishings. Generous swathes of linen pool on the floorboards, their fluidity contrasting the angular splayed lines of the dining table leg. Subdued tones provide a soft backdrop to highlight the fine detail of finishes, such as the hand-sanded veneer in the Ceccotti credenza.
The strength of Alto’s character is best felt in the kitchen and living area where the seemingly soft palette is crafted from robust materials to provide functional family spaces. The kitchen bench follows the bend in the architecture, the shared turning point creating a moment which anchors every theme of the house. This bend allows the kitchen to be simultaneously oriented toward the dining and living family spaces. In the living, a red daybed blends with its backdrop as autumn turns the leaves, then remains as a moment of delight as the colour pops against hues of green.
While the entry stair represents the formal language, a second stair acts as the counterpoint to allow the flow of daily life to circulate, direct and unimpeded. This route takes us up to the family’s retreat. Here the kids’ rooms are identifiable by their favourite colours and personally curated with rugs and furnishings.
From the sculpted firewood tray to the waxed plaster walls, the play of texture is discernible purely through visual connection. As you wander further into the house, it is the feeling of pure silk underfoot in the Behruz rug, the cool steel guide of the handrail, or the brush of skin against a bush-hammered bench that makes you feel one with this home. Alto celebrates the nuance of architectural renovation, stitched together with a deft hand to blend its interior spaces with grace.