Upon returning to Australia from London, our clients- who we had managed a warehouse development for in Fitzroy a number of years ago- have bought a small cream brick warehouse in Brunswick. Their brief was to turn this empty shell into a home for their classic car collection with living accommodation above. With regard to the residence, consideration is to be given to future ageing in place requirements while also being able to accommodate occasions where three generations of the family can visit.
In typical Brunswick fashion the surrounding urban context is a mixture of timber cottages, two storey terraces, small commercial buildings and recent infill housing developments. The site is bounded on both sides and to the rear with similar era, single storey saw-tooth roofed factories.
With the property enclosed on three sides and most of ground floor given over to pedestrian and vehicle entries and garaging for the car collection, creating vistas and multiple separate external and internal living spaces with good light levels was to be the design challenge.
A GoPro camera, fitted to a drone and flown over the site at various heights and locations was immensely valuable in determining the planning, location and orientation of the various spaces.
Leaving the external walls but removing the corrugated asbestos sheet roofing, the approach is an insertion into an existing space with minimal change to the existing fabric rather than trying to conceal or integrate the existing with the new.
While the requirements of the separate spaces resulted in conventional planning, externally the additional levels take their aesthetic queues from the industrial context of the area and read as separately clad boxes. Metal cladding, steel and aluminium windows and steel mesh balustrades all add to the industrial aesthetic. Internally warmth is achieved through the natural timber floors and joinery, and a triple fronted fireplace separates the main living from the kitchen and dining spaces whilst also serving as the source of heating for these areas. Expansive windows to the north and full height curtains add distance and texture and a small sheltered easterly facing courtyard creates an intimate visual connection.