Home Tour | Fitzroy Bridge House by Matt Gibson Architecture + Design

  • An adaptive family home in Melbourne’s Fitzroy celebrates its locale’s legacy while extending a hand to the future.

    Melbourne’s oldest colonial suburb Fitzroy, belonging to the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people, is home to some of the oldest architecture in Victoria – most of it still intact or rehabilitated. Matt Gibson Architecture & Design were well acquainted with the area and its architectural significance before converting this heritage-listed terrace house. Their brief: an authentic and responsive edition to the original building – one that was both respectful of its past and representative of the family that lived there.

    The Location

    Flanking Collingwood, Carlton and the CBD, Fitzroy has long been an integral part of Melbourne and its culture. Formed in the mid-1800s, its buildings and streets are reminiscent of the city’s bygone days, when the first tram tracks were laid on Brunswick and Smith Street. Many of the houses built during this period are today considered architecturally significant and heritage protected; Fitzroy Bridge House being one of them.

    The Intent

    As opposed to attaching an addition to the existing house (a typical heritage conversion approach), Matt Gibson Architecture & Design elected to design a series of semi-isolated pavilions spaced out by courtyards. This dynamic approach to the architecture, whereby three two-storey buildings are placed along a narrow site, prioritises the objectives of light, movement and airflow.

    Matching the home’s street-facing exterior, the formal living room is painted in Dulux ‘Dark Door’. Continuing the theme of rich, dark tones, the space features a pair of storm-blue grazia&co Harvey armchairs and a striped Gervasoni Inout 44 side table. Objet d’art including Henry Wilson’s surface sconce feature on the back wall. Artwork by Euan Macleod.

    A mirrored wall makes the basement-level wine cellar appear more elongated.

    The Bridge

    In keeping with the dynamic experience of the site, Matt Gibson Architecture & Design invite occupants to travel between the two main buildings via a glass-floored bridge. The gaps between the bridge’s timber trusses reveal a beautifully landscaped courtyard below, with zen-like design features inspired by the owner’s Asian heritage. To the right of this courtyard lies a corridor lined by glass sliding doors and timber beams, honing the theme of integrated outdoor living.

    Connection to the Past

    Being situated in a heritage overlay, one of the conditions of the conversion was preserving the street-facing facade. Matt Gibson Architecture & Design chose to restore it in a deep navy blue and paint the door a vibrant green, signalling to onlookers that the house has entered a new era. The rear ‘studio’ building backs onto a laneway; the white bricks were salvaged from the original and reused to ensure a natural progression from the old.  

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