Templestowe Residence is an expansive single story home designed by Christopher Elliott Design, located in Templestowe, a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. “We are all familiar with the wise saying “a stitch in time saves nine”, but this proverb does not best describe the approach taken by the previous owners of this expansive single storey house, towards the maintenance of their property. In fact the house and its gorgeous surrounding gardens; although ideally located amongst the rolling hills of Templestowe, were a veil to the outdated rooms and darkened interior that lay within.”
So by the time the current owners had purchased it they were rather overwhelmed as to how they would transform this awkward 1970’s property into a stunning home. Fear not, they called in the expert eye of Christopher Elliott; who had recently completed the design of their friend’s house.
From the onset, it was clear to Christopher a complete overhaul of the disjointed internal architecture was in order; for the existing layout didn’t take full advantage of the picturesque garden outlook and left many rooms unutilised. Christopher’s new floor plan design brought unity to the architecture and enabled a more intuitive relationship between each of the various rooms of the house. Pivotal to the new design was the decision to open large sections of the house onto the pre-existing centrally located pool and courtyard via large expansive sliding doors, installed throughout the living spaces and the master bedroom.
These modifications provided the house with a beautiful tranquil vista and some much-needed natural light; it was also the inspiration for the new colour scheme. Christopher’s new design also incorporated all of the necessary state-of-art modern conveniences and luxuries expected from a house of this calibre, which in some instances required striping the house back to its bare bones. The extensive renovation would also provide a clean backdrop for a new tailor made interior design, better suited to the client’s lifestyle.
The first phase of the project involved altering the access into the master bedroom via a newly appointed ‘parents retreat’ which was previously an unused storage space and blocking off the old entrance from the kids study area. Thus providing more privacy and separation for the clients from their two growing teenage boys, now who wouldn’t want that? Also, the remodelling of the master bedroom incorporated a spare bedroom that was transformed into a beautiful, generous walk in robe and the previous inadequately sized walk in robe and ensuite became one large ensuite with a separate toilet. As you can guess, this house was not short of space!
The second phase of the project included the complete demolition and reinstatement of the properties kitchen, study, spare bedroom, both formal and casual living/dining spaces. The massive renovation was a bold direction but took all of the previously unused areas, and there were many, transforming and simplifying them into functional, practical and enjoyable spaces with the kitchen at the heart of the design. And what a big heart it is!
The kitchen island bench alone is an impressive seven metres long, clad in a stunning ‘Super White’ marble and with a butler’s pantry come laundry extending off from the kitchen that can be completely concealed with the closing of the full height sliding door. The new design meant many of the existing internals walls were removed and subsequently new engineered support beams were required to underpin the large ‘A’ frame roof, but these were cleverly concealed behind feature timber posts. That was also aesthetically a way of partitioning adjoining spaces without totally blocking either the light or the view.
The third and final phase of the project was the most rewarding for the clients, for it is when they could finally begin to truly experience the wonderful results of Christopher’s thoughtful and meticulous design. Many of the previous decisions and choices lay the foundations of the design, but it was not until the final selection of the furniture, decoration and artwork were in place, could they fully appreciate the vision Christopher had all along.
Most of the furniture and artwork for this project were made-to-order and in some instances Christopher specifically designed pieces of furniture to suit. This process also included the commissioning of several artists’ works. One significant piece that hangs above a colourful custom-made sideboard in the dining space was a beautiful work by renowned Australian artist Andrew O’Brien. This dynamic artwork, visible from the front entrance, sets the tone for the entire house, one that is bold, brave and surprising.
Photos: Sharyn Cairns
142 Kenilworth is a contemporary home designed by studio Johnson Chou, located in the beaches neighborhood in the east end of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The original structure was a two-storey 1,250 square foot (139 square meters) building renovated into a three-storey 1,950 square foot (178 square meters) residence achieved by converting the existing attic space into a master bedroom with ensuite and adding a two-storey rear extension.
From the architects: Built in the early 1900’s, maintaining the integrity of the scale and form of the building, such as retaining the roofline and preserving, repairing the existing brick, was a priority from the start.
There was a desire to allow elements of the modernist aesthetic developed for the interior to percolate to the exterior. As the building is one of a series of nearly identical houses with similar details mirrored along the street, an opportunity arose to insert abstracted elements that juxtaposed and created a dialogue with the existing façades.
The original 3 bedroom house had the main stair positioned perpendicular to the length of the house, effectively dividing the house into two – front and rear. Further exacerbated by the profusion of tiny rooms and the relatively narrow width of the building, the house felt cramped and imparted a sense of claustrophobia. Our functional strategy was to demolish the interior of the existing building, eliminate all interior partitions on the ground floor; reposition the main stair parallel and against the side wall of the building; remove the exterior wall facing the backyard and replace it with a 15’ foot (4.5 meters) deep, 200 square foot (23 square meters) two-storey addition.
The intention is to have the two levels of the existing interior spaces overlook the double-height space of the newly created living-room, with it becoming the visual link and the notional “hub” of the residence. The design concept was two-fold: to perforate the volume of the building with openings to allow internal and long views directly to the exterior, creating the impression of a larger building; to develop a motif that redefines the existing building as a series of overlapping “frames” that function either as portals or an apparatus for viewing.
As such the project is about creating volumes of flowing spaces in the horizontal and vertical dimensions, and the kinaesthetic experience of framed views from within and without. The frame motif can be perceived, for example, at the front entrance screen, the main circulation stair and the rear glass facade.
From the entrance one has a view over the family room and past the kitchen, dining and living rooms. Here, the solidity evoked by the front facade dematerializes to a veneer of glass where narrow, custom-fabricated mullions frame the aperture to create the illusion of being detached from the house – a window hovering in mid-air. An oversized pivoting glass door leading to the outdoor patio blurs the distinction between the interior and exterior spaces.
The attic was transformed into the master bedroom and ensuite which are separated by frameless glass screens. The ceiling was flattened but the pitched-roof was maintained at the front to blend in with the adjacent buildings. The triangular-shaped attic window frames the freestanding tub, allowing for an uninterrupted view to the park beyond.
Photos: Courtesy of Johnson Chou
Thao Dien House is a beautiful renovation project carried out in 2014 by MM++ Architects, located in Thảo Điền, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The contemporary villa is comprised of 3,013 square feet (280 square meters), showcasing clean lines and wide open spaces.
From the architect: The intention was to turn the existing construction, a “pastiche” art deco, into a contemporary villa with clean lines and open spaces while keeping the entire existing concrete structure. The cost saving, which represents around 30% of total construction cost and the time saving on the construction schedule was a huge benefit for the client, an investor. Therefore, with balancing the cost, it was possible to add new elements to the construction.
The building has been reduced to his most minimal expression, a white cubic shape with two vertical vegetal walls added on the front and back of the house in order to bring privacy for the bedrooms and allowing large openings for natural ventilation without crossing views. The vertical garden “extends” the surrounding vegetation onto the walls and makes the house “disappearing” into the landscape. It creates a strong visual connection between the house and the garden and gives an identity to the place.
On the ground floor, living room, dining and kitchen are merged in one unique space fully open to the outdoor on three sides, bringing the garden inside the house. Swimming pool and decking have been reshaped as an extension of the interior space. The staircase has been relocated for a better distribution of the first floor and creates the main feature of the living room with a floating steps design. On the first floor, three bedrooms instead of the four existing in order to gain space to create a real master suite.
Starting from a poor existing space quality, enclosed, with no connection to the garden, this project is an experiment to demonstrate how it can be versatile and fun to “play” with an existing structure and to turn the construction into a radically different layout and design, revealing better spaces, adding value to the place and proposing a life style closer to nature.
Photos: Hiroyuki OKI
From the architects: Casa Pina white and bright, as we all imagine an apartment on the sea. Resin, walls and white boiserie bring out the “frake”, a wood with many contrasts of light and dark, used for all furniture. Natural light ripples on the wave of artificial light, which softens and gives taste to the rigid lines and square volumes of the walls.
The table divides the kitchen from the dining room, both are bounded by a closed / open boiserie.
The white is imperative and enhances the window overlooking the terrace, from which you can admire the garden and breathe the typical atmosphere of the sea.
And the eye runs through the bed of the master bedroom that shows a glimpse of the precious vessels of the bathroom on one side, and the panoramic terrace on the other, and, on request, the view is obscured by an electric curtain.
Photos: Fabrizio Carraro
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