Unbricked House by Merrylees Architecture
Merrylees Architecture, an architecture studio based out of Melbourne, was tasked with reviving an old Victorian home in a way that will make it appropriate for a modern family. To do so, the Unbricked House went under a total modern makeover starting with the stripping off of the exterior paint layers underneath which original red bricks hid in mint condition. This inspired the architects to revive the old look but with a modern twist in the backyard.
The brief was to transform this brick Victorian home, situated on a main road, into a tranquil family residence capable of accommodating the lifestyle of the occupants for many years to come. The features of the original home were to be retained wherever possible, however the challenge was to introduce an abundance of natural light, and create a more livable environment that performed well thermally year round.
By utilizing the functional layout and large proportions of the front rooms, spaces that were perfect for bedrooms, a study / den and bathroom, there was minimal cost to resolve half of the brief which helped to keep the project on track with a limited budget. The addition of hydronic heating, carefully placed skylights and a small, concealed, ensuite pop-out for the main bedroom completed the internal transformation of the original house. At the rear of the house was a series of lean to additions, resulting in a dark and disjointed layout.
The brief was to open up the rear creating a bright, open plan living space, with ample storage and utility areas for day to day convenience. It was determined early on that a garage would compromise the integrity of the Victorian facade so internal storage and easy access from the driveway was essential. The design response was to create a second, distinctly modern entry off the driveway leading straight into a large mud room with storage lockers for each family member, laundry and wine store. This space leads to the main living area, kitchen, dining and semi-open study nook directly off the lounge area. Having young children, this place is ideal for easily accessible toy storage and in later years a supervised study zone. With both parents working from home regularly and two young children, the renovation and extension had to be practical and stand the test of time as they grew up.
The clients wanted the new addition to have a strong connection to the original home they fell in love with, while establishing a living zone directly linked to the garden and new pool. Early discussions about materiality lead to a combination of recycled red brick, black steel framed windows, blackened blackbutt and black metal trims. Contemporary yet sustainable materials; solid and everlasting just like the original home. The Victorian facade had been rendered and painted a dull cream, so it was decided to strip back the render and paint to reveal the bricks behind. The original red bricks were in excellent condition and completely transformed the facade into its former glory, while establishing a distinct connection between the new red brick contemporary addition and the original home.
This unveiling of the original house’s red bricks was a stand out moment during the construction phase as we could all see it suddenly coming together as one cohesive design. Internally, we wanted to create warmth and softness to contrast the hardy exterior material palette and establish a seamless transition between the old and new. Internal steel framed doors mark the transition threshold which is further enhanced with a floor finish change from timber to a hydronic heated, concrete slab. Soft blue and contrasting dark blue/grey tones were teamed up with light timber joinery to create an interior color palette that emanated a sense of calm and tranquility from the hustle and bustle of daily life, and the busy main road location.