Much has been said about which Australian state is the best, but few would object if Victoria was recognised as the country’s leader in contemporary architecture.
Although buildings like the RMIT Design Hub and the Melbourne Recital Centre often steal the show, the culture of bold design is also evident in the countryside and suburbs. Quarry House, a renovation and addition to an existing Victorian terrace in Brunswick East, Melbourne, is an example of this ‘trickle-down’ effect.
Designed by Hook Turn Architecture, Quarry House takes its cues from the history of the local area – Brunswick was founded on brick and bluestone quarrying industries – and is conceived as a bluestone box stacked on top of a ground floor brick box.
The existing home, a tiny two-bedroom terrace that was home to a young family but in a state of disrepair and lacking connections to its north-facing rear yard, was constructed almost entirely of brickwork. The ground floor addition remains faithful to this material, while addressing the backyard disconnect by locating the most inhabited parts of the house at its rear. Large glass doors allow the indoor living spaces to spill on to the outdoors.
The upper storey recalls the local bluestone industry through a figurative representation of naturally occurring bluestone formations. According to the architect, tessellated patterns are formed when basaltic lava flows cool to create bluestone, cracking and shearing in geometric arrangements.
The second floor is clad in folded zinc panels recalling this columnar basalt, eroded at the rear facade to provide an arched, cave-like outline to the new master bedroom window.
Interestingly, the geometric rear façade was originally intended to be constructed using traditional folded zinc sheet panels. However, no zinc installer was interested in tackling the project due to its small size and relative complexity. This led the team to use zinc-faced composite panels instead. Thirty-eight unique panel types were shop drawn by the architect, before being CAD/CAM-routed and cut off site. They were folded and installed on to a laser-cut plywood substrate.
In addition to weaving some of the area’s local history into its built fabric, the cantilevered form shades the home’s interiors during summer while encouraging the entry of low sun in winter.
Within the home, planning has been arranged to afford each room with the best access to daylight, with a centrally located courtyard delivering light deep into the plan and acting as an extension to the dining room.
The bathrooms, located centrally, take advantage of the generous light well at the centre of the plan.
Meanwhile, a robust material palette has been applied to the interiors, with a particular focus on durable finishes and fixtures sourced from small, independent designers.
According to Hook Turn architect Ben Tole, the contemporary addition, unafraid of what it stands for, was intended to complement rather than overshadow the Victorian terrace. But before the traditionalists lambast the design for being too bold and too loud, the second-storey mass is invisible from the main street frontage, where the focus is kept on the 1880s Victorian façade.
As Hook Turn points out, “the real fun takes place in the back yard, where the crystalline second-storey façade gives a private show to the house’s occupants”.
Alpolic FR zinc faced composite panels
STEEL BI-FOLD DOORS
Signorino ‘BonTon’ tiles in black-on-white
Academy Tiles ‘Piombo’ glazed brick tiles
Matte black tapware by Abey and Meir Australia
Geometric terracotta pendant lights by Nick Fraser
‘Up Up’ pendant lights by Emily Green and Dale Hardiman
DECORATIVE WHITE CONCRETE
Solid blackbutt timber flooring