Grasmere House in Melbourne by Bryant Alsop

Grasmere House in Melbourne by Bryant Alsop

Architects: Bryant Alsop
Project: Grasmere House
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Project size: 167 sqm
Completion date 2016
Photography: Rhiannon Slatter

Located in Hawthorn, this early Victorian House, known as ‘ Grasmere house ’, has been transformed into a bright and welcoming family home, whilst also retaining, and celebrating its original Victorian character. From the restored front rooms, the new extension unfolds beyond, wrapped around a new centralised courtyard. This two-storey addition was carefully designed around a 100-year-old Mulberry tree, and directly connects to the rear garden with intermediate outdoor decks.

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The owner’s interest in art and design drove the brief and called for a warm, textured palette with rich colour and pattern. As part of an enduring selection of materials, a structural rammed earth wall in the Living room is a key element that will patina alongside its masonry Victorian counterpart for many years to come. A rear deck off the Living room includes an external fireplace, clad in stone, which ties together the lower living room form and two-storey form behind. Raw finishes such as timber are celebrated, for example, the exterior walls of the main bedroom are clad in an undulating timber cladding which wraps inside to clad the Living room wall.

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The project includes a number of sustainable solutions and implemented passive design techniques to reduce the load on the building’s mechanical systems.

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The combination of a central courtyard and wide eaves allowed for adequate solar access to all Living areas, whilst also blocking harsh sun. There is minimal glazing to the west, and all northern glazing was set back under an eave. A large rammed earth blade wall runs north-south in plan, along the western boundary and coupled with the slab-on-ground construction, these elements provide thermal mass and climactic consistency. High-level operable windows also enable natural cross-ventilation and thermal purging.

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