Australian architecture practice Kennedy Nolan has boldly updated an early 1900s Edwardian house in inner Melbourne with an expressive backyard extension of whimsical flair. Swapping the rectilinear geometry of the existing weatherboard house with an architectural language of curves and circles, a sweeping façade of white painted brickwork wraps around a new pond-cum-swimming pool to create an intimate courtyard linking the renovated house at the front of the property with the new pavilion in the back. In what is a poetic allusion to the white-painted weatherboards of the original house, the upper floor of the pavilion is clad in charred timber. The playful formalism of the exterior is carried on inside where a soothing palette of tactile textures and subdued colours unites the renovated house and new pavilion in subtle sophistication.
Weatherboard houses are a quintessential part of the Australian landscape, their horizontal pattern of white-painted timber boards being the epitome of suburban charm. Rather than appropriating or expanding on this iconography, the architects have chosen a distinct yet equally elemental visual language, swapping weatherboards for white bricks, straight lines for sweeping curves, and regular windows and doors for round windows and arched doorways. And while the resulting façade that connects the new extension with the single-story, wood-framed house couldn’t be more different from the latter’s quaint sensibility, it still shares the same formal quality and monochromatic austerity. Similarly, the charred timber boards cladding the back of the extension, including a balcony shielded from prying eyes, are visually contrasted with the front of the historic house in the front, in both hue and orientation, and yet the effect is one of yin and yang harmony.
The round shape of the windows punctuating the façade of the extension echo the new swimming pool which brazenly eschews the conventional typology of domestic swimming pools for a compact, circular shape and deep, dark waters. Whilst being very much a functional swimming pool, it also functions as a decorative pond imbuing the courtyard with a poetic ambience of serenity and reflection, as well as providing evaporative cooling effects during the summer months.
Contrary to the compartmentalized layout of the existing house, which now houses as two bedrooms, the ground floor of the pavilion has been designed as an open plan living area comprising a sitting area ensconced in a cosy corner, dining area and kitchen, with the master bedroom located and a study area on the first floor. Underpinned by a subdued colour palette of white-painted brickwork, slim beige wall tiles, natural wood panelling and dark grey terrazzo flooring, the space is a paradigm of composure and sophistication, jazzed up by the playful curvaceousness of the architecture, sleek black accents and the vibrancy of the green-painted metallic staircase. Eccentric in aesthetics and whimsical sensibility, Caroline house, as the family home is called, defies expectations without sacrificing comfort or homeliness.