King Bill, a renovation and extension project of a terrace house on King William Street in Fitzroy, wasn’t a simple conversion of empty lot space into excessive private living space. The owners of this double-storey terrace and additional lot space just off Brunswick Street wanted to give back to their beloved community with a little “pocket park”.
Fitzroy is an eclectic area in terms of its buildings and it’s not shy about the town’s history of mish-mashed building during times of prosperity and scarcity. King Bill interprets the mixed textures and materials of Fitzroy in the abundance of corrugated steel set above dark wood, brick, and glass. Similarly, the project prioritised keeping the mature trees, which already existed on the property and gives the entire building and garden a sense of continuity and permanence not usually present in a new build.
The original terrace, one of five from the 1850s, remains standing but in a reconfiguration. The front façade is untouched except for the removal of the house entrance, which allows the space to flourish as a garden. It was important to the owners to consider the heritage of the sight and preserve as much of the classic Melbourne charm as possible. The typical interiors of the old terrace have also been reimagined, turning the entry hallway into the bathroom and moving the two front rooms typical of the terrace design.
Out the back used to rest a dilapidated old stable, which the family wanted to integrate into the footprint of the main house. As a connection between these two sections of the house, an entirely glass walkway winds through a selection of native grasses that whisper along the walls, casting shadows in the wind. This walkway serves to create privacy and distance between the two portions while also maintaining a serenity and natural movement in the building’s structure.
If the unusual use of fencing on the exterior that curves up from the ground to join the walls of the house didn’t give it away, the interiors of King Bill are also doing interesting things with unusual textures and materials. In a playground-cum-home, the upstairs bedrooms and hallways incorporate faux-grass green carpeting and a large netted area outside the bathroom instead of conventional flooring. It turns the small spaces of the original terrace into a jungle gym of textures and transparencies and adds a touch of whimsy in the way they evoke memories of childhood play areas.
King Bill is about the Fitzroy community and the family’s connection with its history and beauty. In their considered reimagining of the classic terrace, this project keeps rolling towards the future.
Architects: Austin Maynard Architects
Lead Architect: Andrew Maynard and Mark Austin
Company Bio: Since launching in 2002, Austin Maynard have worked on commercial, residential, and retail projects. Their focus is on sustainability and consideration of all aspects of living whether culture, heritage, health, or happiness. Austin Maynard is about approaching projects as unique challenges and using experimentation and a playfulness to provide deliberative designs.
Location: Fitzroy, Melbourne
Completion Date: 2018
Client: Fitzroy family of four
Engineer: Hive Engineering
Builder: CBD Contracting
Landscape Architect: Bush Projects
The John and Phyllis Murphy Award – Winner
Victorian Architecture Award 2018 – Winner
Houses Awards 2018 – Commended
Dezeen World’s Best Architecture Awards 2018 – Long listed
World house of the year from World Architecture Festival 2018 – Finalist
2018 Australian National Architecture Awards – Finalist