An existing late 1970s dwelling in Perth – largely of masonry (brown brick with concrete floors) – offered good thermal mass qualities, but was inward looking and had generally low ceilings. It didn’t make the most of its surrounding natural environment, and therefore, needed a little bit of work.

This is where Maarch came into the picture. The architecture firm’s solution was a steel, glass and timber box that extends the house north into the bush. It has also allowed for breakout spaces for outdoor living.

Specifically, the brief from the clients called for a garden room and kitchen extension, plus interior and exterior renovation works that built upon the bones of the existing dwelling.

“The intervention quietly lands a modernist box in a foreign (almost alien) landscape. It feels like a long way from anywhere,” says the architects. 

“The lights of the city below are only visible in the distance, still some sense of ‘otherworldly’ is here, particularly at dawn when the sky is cold.”

With this idea in mind, the project has been called ‘Life on MAARS’.

The glass frames a view of the vegetation and rocks beyond, and establishes a relationship between the house and landscape setting that previously did not exist. The new spaces support an indoor-outdoor lifestyle, and integrates natural ventilation principles with breezeway louvres. 

The site is in a bushfire zone, but the project eliminated some of the risks by being built away from the upward slope.

Construction access to the site was also not easy. Lightweight construction was chosen for practical reasons – avoiding footings in granite, speed and the inherent sustainability of wood. Cement sheet – where required – was used for protection to the house’s frames.