An out-of-the-ordinary extension elevates this Melbourne home

The work of Kennedy Nolan architects, this addition to a Victorian property is full of bold and bright surprises

kennedy nolan home melbourne kitchen
Derek Swalwell

Concrete, steel and terracotta combine in the newly built extension of this Victorian home in Melbourne’s Northern Suburbs. Designed by local firm Kennedy Nolan, the structure – which features a bold red brise-soleil (sun-shade) on the upper windows – is an eye-catching addition to the period property.

‘We began by prioritising domestic necessities, such as zoning, acoustics, privacy and comfort,’ says practice founder Patrick Kennedy. ‘But we knew from the start that we wanted the visual aspects to be progressive.’ Luckily for the architects, the homeowners were keen on colour and, together, they developed a cohesive scheme that would underpin the entire aesthetic.

Laid out in a courtyard arrangement at the rear of the house, the new extension includes two separate living spaces connected by a kitchen and dining area. Here, aggregate-concrete floors meet terracotta-tiled walls and bespoke cabinetry. An earthy yet exciting palette fills the open-plan space, combining the warmth of rust red with expanses of black for depth and contrast.

Accents of bright blue and repeating geometric motifs are a playful touch, while the dark-painted ceiling creates a cocooning effect, enveloping the whole open-plan layout and providing a strong visual link. Next to the kitchen is a compact living area, with concrete walls and a low-slung, L-shaped sofa in deep-blue wool that wraps around the room.

Floor-to-ceiling doors and windows in red-painted steel connect the ground floor to the garden, continuing the colour scheme. On the extension’s upper level, a striking brise-soleil in the same shade covers the north-facing louvered windows, protecting the children’s bedrooms from the heat of the sun. ‘This element is both a backdrop to the central courtyard and the dominant architectural expression of the house,’ explains Patrick. ‘As well as accommodating complex, ventilated glazing for a variety of rooms, it provides depth, texture and interest.’

The garden, created in collaboration with landscape designer Amanda Oliver, is made up of verdant pockets to the front and rear of the house, as well as an internal courtyard and roof terrace. The entire outdoor space is presided over by a vast oak tree, which is beautifully framed by the extension.

‘We wanted to enliven the exterior without falling into the trap of uncomfortably over-expressive architecture,’ say the architects, who proposed elements with a large-scale, graphic quality that could sit comfortably alongside the existing period architecture and the impressive oak. In addition to the gridded steel sun-shade, these include a lofty freestanding chimney, distinctive door mullions and an oversized porthole window.

‘Our aim was to resist architectural blandness and amplify a sense of joyousness and delight,’ concludes Patrick. In that case, the project can be declared a resounding success.;

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