The clients for this project were featured in the local press for their fight against apartment buildings that are too big, too bulky and do not respect the neighbourhood character of Fitzroy North. Their work has helped to preserve to some extent the heritage we all get to enjoy. So when they approached me to renovate their terrace home in Fitzroy North it was with some pride that they chose us to make sure we could interpret their vision for the house and community.

The challenge was to fit everything we needed on a tiny block, not upset the neighbours and show how a contemporary piece of architecture can complement the existing fabric of the terrace dwelling. Our approach did not increase the existing footprint and we simply built in top of what already exists as well as refurbish the much neglected dwelling. We needed to be strategic in our approach as with all projects of this type there are competing demands of budget, town planning, neighbours interests and of course the hopes and aspirations of or clients.

Our design creates spaces for two teenage boys, an open area downstairs for the family to enjoy and a newly renovated space for parents to relax and enjoy some peace and quiet after a busy day working. The flanking of old an new work well together and it shows how light and space can breathe some much needed magic to Victorian cottages.

… our energy bills are roughly half of previous. Artificial augmentation of heating and cooling has been minimal so far – though we’re in that autumn period where it’s neither super hot or cold. Nonetheless, the retention of masonry and the thermal mass it provides + the double glazing and insulation means that the interior temperature is very stable. We are very glad we got into the house when we did – things went pear-shaped in the world not long after, and working from home here is a pleasure whereas we’d have been going stark staring mad in the original house or the rental. A number of friends came to look at the place – all of them have commented that they can see the hand of an architect in it (and said in a positive way!). It’s exceeded our expectations all around. Once we’ve been in for a full year and seen the way it works through the seasons I’ll no doubt appreciate it even more, but the view lines and alignment of windows and the way light comes through is fantastic. The yellow feature wall works really well – it adds a golden cast to the light as the sun comes through. Alas a photo doesn’t do it justice. Visitors have been interested in the modernist colour scheme & in the use of low-maintenance surfaces. The lack of grout has had many who clean those surfaces regularly waxing lyrical (me being one of them – it seems impossible to clean grout properly without eventually destroying it). We’ve ended up repurposing the rain garden as a herb garden by just leaving enough rocks in it to stop soil washing away when a deluge comes. We’ve also been using it for vermiculture by embedding a couple of in-ground worm-farms in it so we can do on-site composting. Between the two we’ve got a wide variety of herbs growing successfully where we couldn’t before. Worms seem to be much better than just adding fertilizer. I mention the rain garden and our use for it because it’s not something we would have had unless Yarra had insisted, but it’s actually been a positive, so that experience might be useful to other of your clients. So – we’re all well and happy to be home at this end. PS – One of the visitors was an architect by training, and he liked everything as well, but once he got to the structural glass floor/ceiling he exclaimed “Well, that’s just a wank!”. [Actually from our point of view it does what it’s supposed to – but thought you’d be entertained by that.. ;-)]” – Our Clients Words

Coleman Terrace

  • Year: 2019
  • Location: Fitzroy North
  • Builder: PM&R Construction
  • Photos: Trevor Mein

Long Terrace
Shop Top House
Brunswick Studio
Collingwood Warehouse
Terrace House