Normally we fill our homes with objects that remind us of our past. At Bower House, the house itself is made up of elements to remind the owners of their past…
A Collection of Memories
From the front, Bower House by Andrew Simpson Architects looks like any other Victorian terrace in Melbourne's inner city. It's only once you start exploring that you realise this home is a unique collection of memories — abstractions of the owners' memories of their previous homes.
Remembering Past Homes
Partially inspired by Rachel Whiteread's sculpture, House and following a long client-architect conversation, the idea of creating a home as a collection of elements and memories from previous homes came about. The clients sketched, from memory, the floorplans of all of their previous homes — from the US to the UK, France to Melbourne.
Planning from Memories
The architect took these distorted and wholly not-to-scale drawings and simplified the plans to identify spaces of "converge and retreat," "live," "circulate," "breath," "sleep" and "wash". Remarkably, distortions in the drawn plans revealed the clients' preferences for their new home. An unusually large stairway from one of their homes and an oddly large hallway in a previous Melbourne home, for example, highlighted an unconscious desire for spaces that are both circulation and hang-out spaces. The use of the client's hand-drawn plans has been put to use in designing the new extension. On the ground floor, for example, a multi-purpose circulation space harks back to those past homes.
A rippling fibreglass shell becomes an internal facade — a previous jewel in the middle of the home. The glossy reflections of the jewel-like box takes on many layers of meaning, depending on who interprets it. Perhaps a modern chesterfield sofa or a mesh purse.
Normally in heritage-controlled Carlton, you don't see the modern extensions that happen behind Victorian facades. Perhaps luckily for us, you can see the timber facade of Bower House from a side street. In the back yard, a sunken courtyard and rusting steel stairs creates a hidden time-ages space — much like the memories the home embodies.