Among all other requirements, Preston I prioritized the preservation of the midcentury streetscape to which it belongs. Situated in a quiet street away from the hustle and bustle of the glamorous High Street Preston, this modern house in Melbourne, Australia, is a beautifully restored bungalow by Irons McDuff Architecture.
The clients who recently migrated from Zimbabwe seeked the help of McDuff Architecture for a modern and progressive renovation of the dilapidated double brick residence.
Due to the heritage overlay in the area, the architects had to ensure that their modifications were subtle enough to preserve the heritage of the streetscape.
On top of its dilapidated state, the existing house was disconnected from the north facing rear garden and offered no clear entrance from Gertrude street. As such, it became evident that the property would require substantial renovations.
However, due to its location lined up amongst a variety of single-storey houses, most from around the early 1900s, Irons McDuff Architecture sought to “make use of existing materials and qualities so as to create a sense of continuity as an antithesis to the client’s recent experience.”
The exploration of the clients’ move from Zimbabwe as part of the design approach parallels the sense of belonging they seek to achieve in their new home country.
The design goal was to provide a home that is sustainable and comfortable for the family. Furthermore, recently migrating, the clients anticipate frequent overseas guests to which the house can accommodate through the addition and inclusion of guest rooms.
This sense of connection is translated spatially by elevating a courtyard and exposing rafters to connect indoors and outdoors. Access and circulation were also essential considerations. The architects made it a point to integrate easy access to the garden, a feature of the clients’ old house in Zimbabwe.
The interior of the house boasts warm casual textures with natural earth hues. These modifications were carefully considered against the backdrop of the narrative of the existing building. These soft and muted textures were likewise combined with many implements and artwork from their African homeland so as to further connections between their old and new homes.
The house’s sustainability features are integrated seamlessly with its design aesthetics. For example, the exposed brick does not only preserve the original house’s unique and distinctive features but also functions to preserve thermal mass. As such, the house is able to stay warm in winters and cool in summers, stabilizing the internal temperature.
The architects describe their design process as a ritual of unraveling. According to them, “it’s the type of renovation project that through peeling back and revealing more, the story of the next stage in the life of the house has both context and connection to the past”.
This type of delineation between old and new seems to be an homage to the same transition the owners are experiencing and with this narrative and attention to detail, the surprises in Preston House become more evident.