Melvista House

Melvista Avenue, Claremont, Western Australia

A heritage home, transformed by an infusion of contemporary design. A modern extension, inspired by centuries of artistic tradition.

Completed: 2011

Size: 267m/sq

Awards: RAIA WA Chapter Architecture Awards 2012 Colorbond Award for Steel Architecture – Commendation | RAIA WA Chapter Architecture Awards 2012, The Peter Overman Award for Residential Architecture Alterations and Additions – Commendation

Filters: Additions & Alterations / Awards / Heritage / Single Residential / Suburban

This project exemplifies the defining challenge of all heritage work: how could we embody the owners’ vision while still preserving the fabric of the heritage components? Located on a recently sub-divided lot in Claremont, the classic Federation property was blessed with mature gardens and an outlook across College Park. The owners, a family with teenage kids, wanted the new design to bring a contemporary edge to their love of ancient European and Middle Eastern artistic traditions, as well as maintain a connection to the gardens.

The design we developed was at once sympathetic and contemporary, championing the principals of the Australia ICOMOS ‘Burra Charter’. We stripped away previous extensions and sensitively reinstated the original timber detail of the front verandah and the arch-gabled portico. The crisp white formality of the original Federation design is answered by the dark gloss of the glazed bricks in the new section, a harmonious contrast which has a dinner-suit smartness to it. In the garden, we retained the existing trees and made them the central focus of the new front courtyard.

As a conceptual continuation of the traditional lattice, we created a series of laser-cut weathering steel screens, to ‘float’ above the new section. Developed with the team at Little Design Horse, the pattern is inspired by a range of traditions, including French wrought iron, the carved Moorish designs of the Alhambra, delicate Edwardian fretwork and the intricate stained glass of the home’s original front door. By day the screens allow gentle, filtered light into the courtyard, and at night they transform the house into an elaborately patterned lantern.