The Melbourne Laneway House

Friday, January 3rd, 2014
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rose of south yarra
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Inspired by Melbourne’s industrial style cafes and laneway culture, the ‘Rose of South Yarra’ combines interesting shapes and materials – most of them recycled – to create a warm, light-filled, energetic home.

The house, located in South Yarra in  Melbourne, was designed by Wilson iD for a client who wanted to live in a warehouse-style home inspired by the city’s industrial style and laneway chic aesthetic.

“The brief was challenging given the suburban context of the project however it presented a fantastic opportunity to consider what is inherently appealing about industrial space and then reinterpret this to create a domestic environment that had the language and spatial qualities of industrial space yet still evoke a sense of luxury,” said head designer Ian Wilson.

recycled brickwork

The recycled brickwork combined with galvanised metal cladding reinforces the industrial style.

The exterior of the house was shaped more by building restrictions and planning codes than by any preconception of what a house should look like. Most of the materials used were recycled or up-cycled, and some of them were used in the conditions in which they were found. Inside the house, these materials were combined with pre-finished materials, striking a perfect balance between old and new.

The result is a great variety of textures, materials, heights and colours that combine to create an industrial appearance. The design references the industrial building types typical of the inner suburbs of Melbourne in the past.

industrial appearance

A wide variety of textures, materials, heights and colours helps to create an industrial appearance.

In the front facade, the steel structure of the balcony was left exposed and recycled brickwork and galvanised metal cladding reinforce the industrial style. There is also a great deal of steel framed coloured glazing that allows natural light to penetrate and flow inside the house.

The coloured glass is again present at the rear of the house, where louvered windows feature blades of coloured glass, and the back of the fireplace was built with recycled bricks. The living and dining area is connected with a timber deck and garden through steel folding glazed doors which also feature panes of coloured glass.

dropped ceiling

A dropped ceiling of reclaimed painted timber lining boards demarcates the living area.

Inside the house, the changes in light and the use of different materials define each space. A dropped ceiling of reclaimed painted timber lining boards demarcates the living area.

In the kitchen, different types of tiles were used as splashbacks to define functions. The semi-island bench facing the dining area was built with white glazed brickwork with yellow bullnose bricks on the corners; imitating a commercial cafe kitchen.

semi island bench

The semi-island bench facing the dining area was built with white glazed brickwork, imitating a commercial cafe kitchen.

On the upper level, there is an open loft-like space for the main bedroom which features a translucent wall to provide natural light and privacy. There is also an ensuite bathroom replete with large grey floor tiles and colourful glossy wall tiling.

The project won several awards this year, including the Building Design of the Year by the Building Designers Association of Victoria (BDAV) in the association’s annual competition. Paula Hanley, chair of the judging panel, said the project was “a robust and unconventional design, and a welcome departure from the norms of residential design in the inner suburban context.”

open loft like space

An open loft-like space contains the main bedroom and boasts a translucent wall providing natural light and privacy.

The home was recognised for “embracing its immediate urban, natural and built environments, softening conventional and spatial boundaries,” its design being mostly sustainable and sensitive to the environment.

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