Geometric extension Edwardian house exterior

Elphin House is a striking geometric extension to an existing Edwardian home in the leafy Melbourne suburb of Ivanhoe.

From the architect:


The original Edwardian house had served as the family home for several generations. A more recent studio in the northeast corner of the site housed a dressmaking workshop and served as overflow accommodation for guests. The studio required separate access for customers from the street.

The existing house was much-loved, and the original Edwardian character of the front rooms had been preserved. However, the house did not follow the natural slope of the site, meaning the north-facing living area was elevated from the garden which was accessed via a staircase. Views of the garden and access to northern sunlight were also underexploited.


The brief was to create living spaces, a kitchen and new bedroom with ensuite. The living space was to link in with the garden, take advantage of the views and sun while preserving the original parts of the Edwardian house and maintaining the amenity of the northeast studio. Care was also required to ensure the upper level bedroom would have views of the treetops without compromising the privacy of the neighbours.

Design response

Geometric extension Edwardian house light

The resulting insertion is housed within a deliberately simple geometric form with the intention of bringing a sense of clarity, space, and ease to the home as a whole. Although the form of the extension looks simple, it has been carefully honed.

Spaces are arranged in split levels, so the living area and kitchen drop down closer to the garden level. The upper level bedroom is not so elevated as to be able to be seen from the street, so it does not compete with the Edwardian street facade.

Geometric extension Edwardian house detail

The outdoor deck is tapered to create space for outdoor dining immediately next to the kitchen. Broad steps, suitable for lounging on, face toward the best garden views. When seen from the back garden the new extension with its double height living space and intricately patterned screen are impressive.

Inside, the living room, with its sloped, double height ceiling, draws the viewer’s gaze up to the finely detailed screen and greenery beyond. The screen casts dappled shade, creating a quality of light that is gentle and bright throughout the house. The algorithmic pattern employed for the screen is repeated throughout the house on glass splashbacks, air-conditioning registers and screen doors.

Geometric extension Edwardian house interior

The kitchen, laundry and a study nook are tucked beneath the upper level bedroom. The kitchen is understated, light and functional. It addresses both the living area and outdoor deck with an island bench that has an indoor-outdoor feel when the large sliding door panels are drawn back.