A lot of people assume architecture needs to be grand and complicated, but the reality is, good architecture can improve your home and lifestyle in more subtle ways, simply by creating a pleasing flow, comfortable spaces and by working efficiently. The owner of Coleman Residence by Atlas Architects wasn't interested in the bells and whistles, but she did want a home that would suit her lifestyle...
The original home was a heritage Victorian-era terrace with a lean-to at the rear. "The client bought the house with her sister in the 1980s", explains the architect, Ton Vu. "The old building has a sentimental value to the client. Over the past 40 years, the house deteriorated significantly. The client came to us with the hope of building her dream home. She questioned if the building could still be restored and improved, or if she was better to sell the property." Ultimately, the renovation maintained the heritage facade while rebuilding the rest of the home to suit the owner's modern lifestyle.
The owner was after a home that is functional, low-maintenance, comfortable, welcoming and secure. But she wasn't fussed on grand statements and architectural tricks, just a home that works and flows and has a place for everything; "a space that is nice to come home to and to welcome friends into", explains Ton. This, we believe, is the essence of good architectural design.
A guest bedroom is located in the original room facing the street, while the main bedroom is set back from the street, but still enjoys a view out thanks to the home's setback. The open-plan living area to the rear enjoys plenty of natural light and incorporates a study nook and plenty of storage. The storage space was meticulously planned by "cataloguing and measuring the client’s belongings" to give everything a place.
The home is designed to suit and complement its owner's lifestyle. "Fragments of the owner’s story are framed by the timber shelves along the corridor and in the living room. These were designed to create frames for knick-knacks and books that the owner collected over time."
The original pitched roof has been continued into the new extension, but this extra volume is revealed in the living room with cathedral ceilings helping to make the space feel larger and a clerestory window lets additional north light in.
A circular window is a fun, contemporary interpretation of the ornamentation of the Victorian era. Importantly, it also serves as a porthole for the owner's cat, Dot, to watch the world passing by. Dot also has direct access to the laundry where her litter tray is located via a "series of carefully located internal cat doors".
"The backyard area is limited, however a large bifold door and highlight window create a sense of openness and flow between inside and outside", explains Ton. "The cathedral ceiling continues out and becomes the northern verandah awning. This helps control the light in the living space while articulating the rear façades new identity."
The rear facade which is visible from the laneway keeps things simple and monochrome with white weatherboards and COLORBOND® steel in a MINI ORB® profile running vertically to balance and contrast with the horizontality of the weatherboards. The pitch of the roof and the round window adds some excitement to the facade much like the parapet and ornamentation of the front facade.
By carefully considering the client's needs, Coleman Residence creates the perfect sanctuary: a home that feels calm, ordered and suits the owner's lifestyle. This is what good architecture is all about.