Many of Melbourne’s old buildings have a certain character to them. A personality of sorts, that goes beyond structures and design flourishes. These dwellings have more so resembled living things with their own unique character traits, as vines twist around exterior walls and light bulbs give off a yellow shaded warmth.
The Bustle House by FMD Architects was restored off the back of this premise. Told by the client that she was merely the current caretaker of this particular ‘old lady’, the practice were tasked with exploring the concepts of beauty, ageing, utility and continuity, through the analogy of the existing house being an old lady with a bustle dress, reflected in the cladded extension at the rear of the house.
FMD was conscious in the design process of wanting to allow the house to grow and age gracefully, and acknowledged its weathered nature as a thing of beauty and respect. The result is a house that has been gently restored, with modern design techniques intertwined with the traditional values of the house that proudly sits on the block.
The extension, described as the ‘bustle’, is full of functional additions to the abode. It contains a new kitchen, dining room, bathroom and laundry. The kitchen mirrors the design of the extension’s exterior, with timber finishes a striking resemblance to what is seen from the street. The natural gradients of the floor tiling as well as the rustic hues of the chair placed in the living room, the curtains and the underside of the kitchen bench all complement the Victorian personality of the house that still stands proudly on the corner block.
The new bathroom is quite the feature, with small mosaic tiles scaling the walls. In line with the idea of old meets new, the sleek tapware and vanities juxtapose the surfaces, but they still operate with one another smoothly. The living spaces allow for natural light, with the furniture choices pivotal in ensuring the area remains open. The bookshelf tucked into the back corner is a reflection of this, as is the lounge, as both are major points of design within the space, but do not overwhelm it.
The extension opens out into the garden, honouring the biophilic principles of modern day design and thus connecting residents to a green space that allows for relaxation and connection with nature. The top of the new addition also serves as a balcony, that plays host to views of Melbourne in the foreground, that is detailed in a way that is reminiscent of a Victorian lady’s dress.
The garden features many species of cacti and agaves, that are Californian in characteristic, but are able to work within the confines of this mid nineteenth Victorian construction. The garden is circled by a naturally stained picket fence that snakes around the perimeter, and is congruent with both the interior and exterior of the extension.
The rest of the house has been left in its original glory, as a testament to the idea of the house being personified as an old lady. The new annex has been created to co-exist with the original dwelling, not to trample over it. FMD’s careful and thoughtful design has allowed for the two pieces to become one, in spite of the fact that they were crafted centuries apart.
The end result is a naturally finished, smart design that incorporates the best of Victorian architecture and modern design. A juggling act in every sense, FMD have done exceptionally well to intertwine its expertise with what has come before.