Project: Eliza Residence
Lead Architect: Weian Lim
Builder: MJC Builders
Structural Engineer: Measure Engineering
Landscape Designer: Peachy Green
Interior Stylis: Bea+Co
Location: Black Rock, Victoria, Australia
Area: 506 m2
Photographs: Dave Kulesza
Eliza Residence is located in an enviable neighborhood pocket of Black Rock; within 400m to picturesque Beach Road and walking distance to the Sandringham Beach Foreshore Reserve. The homeowners had a clear ambition of laying roots with their young family in this Bayside community and setting up their forever home. The previous dwelling was a Post-war double-fronted brick-veneered house which was part of the common building stock of its time and did not hold any heritage significance.
The old house had familiar characteristics of its Post-war pedigree by way of low ceilings and an awkwardly laid out horse-shoe internal configuration, so the logical decision was made to take a knock-down/rebuild approach. The owners wanted a practical, fuss-free home that will last them for years to come and our challenge was to create a design that responds to their present & future needs.
While the existing building was of no heritage significance, a conscious decision to retain and edit parts of the existing fabric (ground-level exterior walls) was inspired by the original horse-shoe-shaped building layout that prioritized an east-facing courtyard that enjoyed lovely morning light.
Short sections of the existing brick-veneered walls were retained as best they could primarily along the western and northern faces of the building. A new front entry was orientated to be centered with the true spine of the house to lead unto a generous hallway that expands into an open plan living space which further spills outwards to a well-curated backyard.
Full-height glazed sliders are able to be stacked or concealed to allow the living spaces to open up completely to the outdoors. This indoor-outdoor connection is further emphasized with zero thresholds between interior flooring and exterior decking, bringing borrowed amenities and a full 180deg view of the garden inside.
The front hallway is well lit by the large windows from the stairwell that looks out to the central courtyard. Morning light is captured through this window in a warm glow and paints the space with shadows from the lush landscape of the outside. Curved walls gently lead into the north-facing living room which feels constantly light and airy throughout the year.
Despite the generous feel of the open plan living space downstairs, the Eliza Residence has been designed with the privacy of neighbors in mind with custom cedar screening to both the front and rear upper-level facades.
High-quality, long-lasting materials, and proven construction methodologies were purposefully selected for their time-tested qualities. Exterior finishes of black timber battens, white-painted recycled bricks, and a velvety grey cement render collectively form a sophisticated material palette that is understated yet timeless.
The color palette was intentionally monochromatic to pair with the subtle textural qualities of the building materials. From the street, the restraint palette is not meant to overwhelm the streetscape but sit quite comfortably in this leafy neighborhood pocket.
To contrast the light and open feel of the shared family spaces of the house, the private rooms adopt a moodier persona with darker color schemes. The library/study is representative of this with deep feature-window steel reveal, that doubles as a bay window, colored black. The dark tone continues with matte black cabinetry and a graphite black quartz hearth for the open fireplace. Offsetting these dark tones are the warmer wood-veneered joinery and strategic ambient lighting.
This application of timber on joinery extends throughout the house to tie all these pieces in a consistent material and visual language. A cement-rendered feature wall in the Dining space mirrors the velvet finish of the exterior walls, strengthening the relationship and visual consistency between inside and out.
The eventual physical footprint of the new house is not large compared to its surrounding neighbors in this Bayside neighborhood, but the spaces within it do feel generously sized courtesy of its high ceilings, and clever use of windows, and efficient spatial planning. Gardens and landscaping have the space to ‘breathe’ and occupy their own parts around the house which, in time, complement and soften the angular edges of the building’s skin.
The fortuitously north-facing backyard enabled the rear living spaces to open to it and reap the benefits of a northerly aspect. Outdoor recreational facilities such as the pool, sauna, and BBQ platform are well-placed to be in full view from the indoor living areas. The ability to completely retract the glazed sliders means that a good cross flow of air can always be maintained downstairs.