Step inside South Yarra House, an award shortlisted project by Lande Architects’ founding principals Lachlan McArdle and Ellie Spinks, and residence to Lachlan, wife Emma and their young family.
Lande Architects have reworked a single-fronted Victorian terrace in Melbourne’s South Yarra into a multifunctional, minimalist family home for founder Lachlan McArdle and his family. Brushed with a muted palette and a well-executed introduction of natural light, the home is designed within a compact 200sqm footprint and, through clever intervention, creates a spacious place to call home.
Located in Melbourne’s inner south, Lachlan’s family home is hidden away adjacent to a shared laneway in a pocket of heritage subdivisions surrounded by lush greenery. It’s here Lachlan, and his team have infused a contextual character and clean-lined modernism into the compact footprint. “The sense of space is something I’m incredibly proud of,” Lachlan says. “We managed to pack a lot of function and practicality into a home that feels so minimal and calm.”
The design utilises every square metre of the block by introducing natural light deep into the home. Towards the rear of the home, a large double-voided eastern and northern window creates a bright and airy extension that drenches the living, kitchen and family spaces in light. The open plan kitchen and entertaining area are oriented to the rear of the block along the side boundary. “The non-conventional layout of the dining, kitchen and living area was a success. I can’t see everyone being convinced by that on paper, but it has been great to bring people through and show them how well it works,” Lachlan says. The design creates a direct sequence through the house, with the dining and entertaining space being the home’s central hub.
The kitchen features laminate joinery in Laminex Possum Green, a Grigio Orsola stone benchtop, Brodware tapware in Brushed Nickel and oak joinery handles by Linear Standard accompanied by integrated Fisher and Paykel appliances.
The dining room features a custom dining table by Lande Architects paired with Tait Seam dining chairs.
The kitchen sits between the dining and living space and features green joinery inspired by the unexpected discovery of green space in the surrounding precinct. Likewise, the concrete central island bench with induction cooktop taps into the the clear-lined interior style.
As both architect and end-user, Lachlan was able to take more design and material risks compared to other client projects. “The concrete bench and plinth were a custom mix of two standard concrete mixes from the suppliers. The white was too creamy, and the light grey was still too dark,” Lachlan says. “So we rolled the dice by ordering a half and half mix, which no one knew what it would look like until we peeled the formwork away. This is not something I would have the stomach for if it were for clients. But I think the result was great.”
Aligned with Lande Architects’ design philosophy, South Yarra House represents ‘quiet architecture’. Throughout different times of the day, the pragmatics of the 200sqm2 residential spaces are hard-working and functional, spatially designed for a young family to live, play and grow together. The ground floor is the natural hub of social interaction and functionality with bi-fold doors and an open kitchen. In contrast, the first floor is designed for winding down and includes bedrooms, bathrooms, home office and living spaces.
When asked about his favourite space in the home, Lachlan says it’s the living room. “The volume that the double-height void creates just feels so comfortable,” he says. “The amount of light we get in the Eastern end is beautiful. Direct sunlight floods the living room, kitchen, and in winter, as far back as the dining room in the morning.” The bathtub upstairs is also another favourite spot, with the poll-shaped skylight above reflecting the shape of the bath. “At midday, the sunlight forms an arch on the tiles, reflecting the mirror adjacent,” he adds.
Lachlan’s home reflects the concept of surprise and discovery through unexpected green pockets. The introduction of courtyards and green roofs offer consistent views of nature throughout. The architect explains how the surrounding heritage precinct was a “delightful discovery of greenery and unexpected quietness” – all of which directly inspired the design of his South Yarra House. Lachlan’s attention to the site’s heritage and care taken to preserve the character of the street have balanced a beautiful modern home in a contextual setting that celebrates light, nature and family.