“Living in bustling, vibrant Fitzroy, our client asked us to help her with a tree-change, without changing postcode. Her priority was to have a big veggie garden and a farmhouse, while remaining in the city,” says architect Andrew Maynard of Austin Maynard Architects. A unique response to rising city property prices, the home’s owner also wanted to be able to accommodate her son and his wife with space and privacy for all.
Occupying just 453 square metres of land, this inner-city ‘compound’ features a renovated heritage cottage up the front (where the owner’s son and daughter-in-law live), a communal building in the middle (with adjacent veggie garden), and the owner’s two-storey abode up the back which is affectionately referred to as Terracotta House in reference to the owner’s love of gardening.
A truly adaptable, multi-generational home, the house features a subtle mix of shared and private spaces. “It really is a multi-generational home like no other,” says Andrew. Where typically a young family looks to accommodate retired parents, in this instance it’s the owner that is helping her son and his wife live close to the city (and thus work) in a suburb that they would otherwise be unable to afford.
The original house, a timber clad Victorian workers’ cottage, faces the street – it sits at the front of the block and was renovated as part of the project. It has two bedrooms, a bathroom, an open plan kitchen, dining and lounge area and the cottage exterior remains untouched to retain the street’s character.
Located in the centre of the block is a shared pavilion that features a laundry, toilet and multi-use space. This versatile building functions as a library, guest room, writer’s studio, music room and general social space. “By creating a type of village square, or what the owner jokingly calls a ‘compound,’ she and her son’s family reside individually, in separate homes, on a shared block. With enough distance and garden between each cottage they both have privacy and space, but also the reassurance of help and support close by,” says Andrew.
At the back, with an independent entry from the rear laneway, is Terracotta House. Built boundary to boundary (east/west) filling living spaces with northern light, it features a living room, kitchen and dining, bathroom and study/guest room on the first floor while there’s a main bedroom and ensuite upstairs.
Inspired by the owner’s love of gardening, one of the most striking aspects of the home is its richly coloured and textured materials palette – recycled brick and terracotta tiling abounds. “Beautiful and emotive, a nod to the owner’s love for gardening, the application of terracotta tiles as a wall cladding came from exploring the possibilities of using materials in an unexpected way.”
Photography: Derek Swalwell