A Japanese-Inspired Heritage Home Transformation
The biggest difficulty designing this home in Hawthorn, Victoria eventually inspired its success.
Previously a dark interwar bungalow with a ‘90s rear extension, Ha Architecture were engaged to create a modern, minimalist house with abundant natural light and views to the garden.
The challenge for the architects was navigating the home’s heritage overly, which stipulated no impact to the area’s neighbourhood character. This included the lengthy driveway down the western side, which increased the home’s ‘frontage’ visible from the street.
These constraints ultimately drove Ha’s design solution: to maintain the existing roof form and facade, while carving out a large courtyard with a trickling water feature from the eastern side of the house. A new north-facing, indoor-outdoor area was thereby created, fundamentally altering the experience of this home, although with zero impact to its street view.
This juxtaposition between the new and old spaces eventually became project architect Madeleine Hodge’s favourite feature of the home. ‘I love how it’s invisible from the street – a completely discreet concept,’ she says. ‘It’s only once you’re inside that this beautiful sanctuary reveals itself.’
This central courtyard and its connection to the interiors draws on principles of Japanese architecture, continuing the subtle theme of the home’s previously under-utilised backyard.
‘The key idea, as we interpreted it, was to pare the project back to its bare essentials. This architectural style is not all about the building — it’s about the connection to the outside,’ says Madeleine. ‘The influence of Japanese architecture reflects the travel history and personal philosophy of its occupants.’
The use of timber screens around the courtyard is a key hallmark of this approach. Another is the onsen-style bath in the en suite, looking out to its own private courtyard. Deeper inside the floor plan, an east-facing room is designed to inspire a daily morning yoga practice.
Apart from the facade, front guest bedroom, and original lead light windows repurposed throughout, this is a fundamentally different home. Its dramatic update provides occupants a coherent and connected set of experiences, based around lovely living spaces that enjoy year-round solar access and connection to the outdoor spaces designed by Kihara Landscapes.
Madeleine says. ‘When the doors are open you can hear the trickling water throughout the house and it transports you to a magical place far from suburban Melbourne.’