Sometimes it’s easier to break things apart and start from scratch… but where’s the fun in that? Injecting a period home with contemporary architectural elements while still respecting its history is a far more creatively satisfying (albeit challenging) task. For JCB Architects, this St Kilda West residence presented an opportunity to marry the old with the new, resulting in an Edwardian frontage with a striking, design-forward rear extension.

ARCHITECT JCB Architects | PHOTOGRAPHY Derek Swalwell

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The focal point of this property is undoubtedly the zinc and cement rendered exterior, standing tall in the back and serving an interesting juxtaposition with the brick-red front. With its (seemingly) random perforations of various sizes, the façade may at first resemble an art installation – gleaming silver in the sun and creating a lantern-like effect at night – but there’s more to it than meets the eye. Its operable screens are a lesson in stylish functionality, providing residents with the flexibility to both maximise or minimise the amount of natural light and air into the interior of the house. Given Melbourne’s penchant for four seasons in a day, the screens are a fit-for-purpose addition that’s bound to come into a lot of use.

The extension opens out into a landscaped garden with wooden decking and an adjacent swimming pool; a glazed corridor connects the new building to the heritage dwelling, leading into intimate living spaces such as the kitchen, dining and living areas, and games room. Consistent with the overall theme of marrying the old with the new, the interior takes design cues from its façade and fuses modernism with classicism with timber cabinetry, dark wooden parquetry, and a floor-to-ceiling marbled partition in the bathroom. An ornate fireplace in the living room, painted white and accented with speckled marble, adds to the old-fashioned elegance.

Surrounded by conventional homes in a suburban street, we’re certain that the tactful co-existence of period and contemporary architecture in this design will inspire many a neighbour to consider their own modern overhaul.

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The interior spaces are open plan in layout, further enabling the free flow of air and light from the perforated screens into the rest of the rooms.

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