Best of est | Heritage Revivals in Melbourne’s Fitzroy

  • We head to Melbourne’s Fitzroy to spotlight five heritage homes brought into the modern-day through sensitive architectural intervention. 

    The hip and happening pocket of Fitzroy in Melbourne’s north is the city’s first suburb. Consequently, it’s where you’ll find some of Melbourne’s oldest homes, with a significant heritage conservation status throughout the suburb to protect the traditional terraces, worker’s cottages and double-fronted houses. 

    As part of our Best of est series, we’re taking a closer look at four heritage homes in Fitzroy and North Fitzroy where architectural reform takes place on a small footprint and not at the cost of the home’s historical significance. 

    Rose Street by Eastop Architects

    Rose Street by Eastop Architects follows the familiar narrative of a Fitzroy worker’s cottage transformed into a liveable, contemporary home. Eastop Architects emphasised heightened detailing throughout the design, carefully selecting robust materials that would lighten the transition between old and new, inside and out.

    A curved island bench made from solid walnut extends into a dining table in the combined kitchen and dining space, making the most of the compact parameters. A full-height, frameless glass panel provides a seamless and tangible connection to the outdoors. At the same time, a large skylight in the centre of the home welcomes light into the home’s core – a challenge often faced by old terrace homes.

    Fitzroy House by Rob Kennon Architects

    Fitzroy House by Rob Kennon Architects sees the tactful revival of an early Victorian Fitzroy terrace, built in 1861. Rob Kennon Architects have retained key aspects of the heritage home throughout, subtly gesturing to its 150-year-old bones through exposed original internal bluestone walls, aged Baltic Pine flooring and traditional Roman archway. Combating the lack of natural light, the architects have introduced several skylight incisions, including one above the entrance hallway.

    The client specifically requested that Rob Kennon Architects retain the compact footprint of the original home. With this in mind, the rear addition envelopes the living space, dining space and home library as one. While the space may be small, it certainly doesn’t feel or look like it, with each zone subtly distinguished by materiality or garden outlooks. 

    Fitzroy House by Rob Kennon Architects

    Fitzroy House by Rob Kennon Architects

    Fitzroy House by Rob Kennon Architects

    Fitzroy House by Rob Kennon Architects

    Garden Room House by Clare Cousins Architects

    In the Garden Room House by Clare Cousins Architects in North Fitzroy, the architects replaced a former poorly built 1980s two-storey extension with a low-lying, non-conformist brick rear addition. This new part of the home is aptly called the garden room – a double-glazed form framed by light and robust brickwork.

    The front facade of the home – a brick double-fronted Victorian – has been left largely intact. At the same time, the rear addition reflects the home’s heritage through a typically linear Victorian floorplan, where rooms are entered off either side of a central hallway. The kitchen, dining and living space are contained within this new addition, maintaining an inherent connection to the outdoors by allowing the garden to feel as much a part of the home as the living room.

    Moor Street Home by Whiting Architects

    Sandwiched between a 19th-century bluestone church and a row of single-storey terraces, this single fronted, one-bedroom worker’s cottage in the heart of Fitzroy was in need of a significant reform. With no other option than to go upwards, Whiting Architects formulated a design response driven by the need to capture light.

    Whiting Architects miraculously achieved what they weren’t sure was structurally possible, designing a second-storey structure with a ‘folded’ external appearance. This extension features the master bedroom, robe, bathroom and second bedroom or study, accessed via a light-filled staircase, resembling “light through trees.” The result is a functional pint-sized home that pays respects to the traditional Fitzroy architectural language through its dynamic extension.

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