Melbourne homeowners David and Paola had decided that their garage was not being used to its full potential. Seeing the opportunity, they replaced the oversized garage with a two storey brick extension. The aim of the extension was to reduce the total footprint of the dwelling while creating more internal living space, and maximising the outdoor area.
IMAGES Tess Kelly
ARCHITECT Austin Maynard Architects
Unlike a lot of things that could come down on a homeowner like a ton of bricks, this building lifts the owners’ spirits and adds adaptable living space to their property.
Lovingly referred to as ‘Brickface’, this home extension in Richmond, Melbourne offers homeowners David and Paola, as well as their 12-years-old daughter Sophie, a flexible and usable extension to their main house. “The new space has transformed the use of the house we already adore,” say David and Paola. “We now have an outdoor area and studio that may sit in contrast to the architecture of the house but nevertheless successfully links the indoor and outdoor living spaces.”
Having lived in their home for a while already, David and Paola were keen to replace an old garage and create a new building at the end of their garden to function as a garage and also as guest accommodation for visitors. The previous garage that occupied the space was too old and too large, so it was replaced with a more compact building. Mark explains: “The old garage dominated the garden and compromised the family’s outdoor space. The new building, though taller, is smaller, tighter and more efficient. It minimises its footprint to maximise the rear yard.”
Brickface really is a compact and compressed building. There is a garage at ground level, a studio apartment on the first floor and a roof terrace herb and vegetable garden. “The rooftop terrace, accessed via the spiral staircase, is a special feature. It provides an open and sunny platform for productive use and commands incredible views of the Melbourne city landscape.” A new pool and entertaining space were also part of the rebuild. The living area of the main house opens out onto the new deck with the new pool, and looks out onto the new building.
With its brick walls and the interspersed red and blue glazed brick highlights the look and feel is industrial, casual, artful – there is something almost whimsical about it that is hard to pinpoint exactly. The spiral staircase and the round windows add to the overall interest and individuality. Pattern and colour, light and shadow are at play here. David and Paola say: “The sun's reflection of the spiral staircase on the studio wall and the contrast between the coloured glossy bricks and the recycled bricks is constantly changing. It’s wonderful when architecture keeps surprising you with something new.”
David and Paola also enjoy the improved indoor-outdoor flow:
“We have gone from being an inside to an outside family, where the studio façade acts as the backdrop to everything we do in the garden - relax, entertain, swim, grow herbs and veggies.” The exterior is the defining character of the building, and it wasn’t an easy task to find a design that would fit the bill. “Down the laneway there is a jumble of tin and timber garages and sheds. Brickface actually looks to have existed here the longest. To construct a new garage, studio and rooftop terrace and make the building appear to have always been here, was the real challenge,” says Mark. “To help achieve this we used recycled bricks and disguised the expansion joints by running them in line with the mortar to look more like cracks.”
The result is modern, it’s playful and above all it’s flexible and able to adapt to the family’s changing needs. As Mark sums it up: “The project is forward thinking. It utilises and responds to the space and the site as well as the changing needs of the owners.” The first floor living space can be used as a guest room, artist studio, or study. In a few years it might become a ‘home away from home’ for daughter Sophie. The garage below could become a small business site, with direct access from the laneway. Brick by brick, this extension is paving the way to a future full of opportunities in a tight property market.
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