On a beautiful tree-lined street in Elsternwick sit two substantial homes in a dual occupancy arrangement. However, with a façade that’s treated as a singular gesture extending across both properties, you’d be forgiven for mistaking Elsternwick Residences as a single dwelling.

Petersen D91 brickwork

ADDARC has thoughtfully and creatively reimagined a once large, double storey multi-residential property on a 970m² block into two large homes sharing a common boundary alignment.

“Part of our initial strategy was to reconsider how a side-by-side dwelling might work and be perceived from the streetscape. Rather than a pair that was mirrored, stacked or looked complementary, we decided to approach it as a singular composition, so that it had the grandeur and presence of a large generous home,” explains Rohan Appel, Director, ADDARC.

While the internal provisions are almost identical, each arrival journey from the street to the front door is unique. One has an entry to the front door, which is visible from the street and provides view lines to the substantial plane tree in the streetscape, and the other enters via a more discreet landscaped pathway into a central courtyard at the front door. Inside, both include four bedrooms, all with ensuites, along with separate sitting room and study, and a large open plan living/family area, with each home in excess of 400 square metres.

Elsternwick is a hybrid of period and contemporary homes. There are many established Edwardian/ Victorian homes on large blocks, along with weatherboard cottages and an emerging character of redeveloped newer properties and contemporary homes creating infill among them.

Petersen D91 brickwork

The materiality of Elsternwick Residences is a contemporary interpretation of the suburb, reimagining the traditional context in which the materials are represented in the streetscape, craftily composed in their arrangement. The use of a contemporary brick, in this case Petersen D91 bricks, provides a variegated textural element to the façade. Combined with dark stained timber, operable screens and decorative metalwork complete the monochromatic palette and add depth through shadow play.

“We were keen to explore the composition of these familiar materials organised in a contemporary composition. Utilising brickwork elevated at the upper level and in a stack bond arrangement we were able to develop a unique aesthetic within the street. The Petersen D91 is a particular favourite with the ADDARC team as it provides depth and tone within each individual brick, enhanced when you consolidate on mass,” comments Rohan.

The level of craft involved in this home is second to none, Petersen bricks being case in point. While Omnicon Construction had used Petersen bricks before, it was bricklayer, Graham Potts who worked his magic on the stack bond. This was no mean feat, given ADDARC’s request for crisp vertical lines being challenged by Petersen bricks’ perfect imperfections and slight taper on each one. Methodical craftsmanship won the day.

“We set the team a substantial challenge and they executed to perfection. Ensuring that each course of brickwork was consistent across the broad façade and that each vertical window with integrated external screen tracks sat perfectly flush within the brickwork reveals was no mean feat. Through multiple workshops, detailing and samples, the team were all committed to delivering on the vision,” Rohan recalls.

The connectivity of materials really elevates this design and unifies the exterior and interior. The Petersen bricks are used in a stack bond on the front fence, the upper façade, and in the front entry of each home. Externally, the low-level brickwork on the front fence talks to the elevated brickwork on the front façade, creating a beautiful dialogue between landscaped objects and building.

Petersen D91 brickwork

Likewise, the dark stained timber, which is a contemporary reinterpretation of the traditional weatherboard, is used on both the front façade and inside the front entrance. The timber on the ground floor is stunning, enveloping you and taking you through the front entry, playing to the senses of compression and reinforcing the light filled, generous internal spaces within. Timber linings on both sides of the entry is met with a wall of internal Petersen D91 brickwork, again in a stack bond. This acts as a backdrop to a cloak cupboard, with a stone plinth underneath, along with a beautiful artwork sitting against the bricks. It’s a heavenly welcome.

It's not only materials, but also the landscape that’s brought into the home, inviting an abundance of natural light into every space. This play of light is further enhanced upstairs with the introduction of skylights. Running the entire length of the primary bedroom the ensuite vanity with skylight connects the ‘his and hers’ robes and provides a dramatic scale to these otherwise utilitarian spaces. External blinds over the full height windows with operable sunscreens complete the outside palette, enabling views to the sky or treetops, while affording privacy from passers-by.

The homes’ interiors are very much part of the architectural composition and selection, with the Petersen bricks and charred timber setting the palette and tone for internal amenities. For instance, black and steel framed internal partitions, with reeded glass, separate the sitting room from the main hallway, with light travelling to all of circulation spaces. The light grey polished concrete on the floor matches the undulating tone of the Petersen bricks, as does the quartzite with a crystalline quality providing a jewel like sparkle to the over scaled island bench.

In the rear garden, rather than using a traditional glazed balustrade, a rodded cantilevered pool fence rises out of Tundra stone and together with a greyed toned Modwood timber decking, it creates a beautifully warm and soft palette set against the landscaping. An outside area perfectly suited to entertaining.

Everyone, from friends to passers-by, loves Elsternwick Residences, most so struck by the presence of an impressive contemporary home in the streetscape, they don’t realise it’s two homes in one. As Rohan says, “It really is testament not only to material choice, but also how those materials sit in harmony with the rest of the streetscape.” For that alone, ADDARC is rightfully proud.

Project details

Project: Elsternwick Residences

Location: Elsternwick, VIC

Architect: ADDARC

Product: Petersen D91 bricks

Builder: Omnicon Constructions

Bricklayer: Graham Potts

Photography: Timothy Kaye