Abstract House
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Abstract House

Interior Designer:
Matt Gibson Architecture + Design
Caroline Lieu
Shannon McGrath

This house for a family is organised around a north facing central courtyard overlooking a vertical garden. It is designed to reveal a distinct sequence of spaces and to forge a clear relationship between inside and outside.A composition of interwoven forms and materials act as the determining elements of its architecture and interior.

The residence is named Abstract House after its composition, which borrows features from early Modernist architecture including buildings by Mies van der Rohe and Erich Mendelsohn – whose work is characterised by linear forms and a lack of ornament.

"When we talk about 'abstract' we're talking about a composition where there is an emphasis on form and its depiction through shape, colour and texture," explained Gibson.

The extension sits at the back of a Victorian-era residence in the Melbourne suburb of Albert Park and provides a new dining area and bedrooms for the family

Bedrooms are contained within a zinc-clad volume that is suspended over a brick and glass block containing the kitchen and dining area.

The materials were selected to help contextualise the extension with the existing building, which had not been renovated for 100 years.

"The building hadn't been improved for a century and we felt it was imperative that the new invention was derivative of the history of the existing building, continuing the next new chapter of the same story," Gibson said. "We admired the red brickwork of the existing building and wished to give the rear elements a similar integrity."

The L-shaped extension encloses a small patio in a nook against the red brick wall of the old house. Glazed doors link the ground floor to this courtyard and a larger garden containing a swimming pool at the rear.

"We were keen to maintain a completely open footprint between inside and out, seemingly without enclosure, allowing for greater usability and flow of space," said the architect.

A corridor leads from the family dining and living area to more formal reception areas in the old house, while a short bridge links the upper floors. "The layout is zoned so that formal spaces are located within the original front four rooms where the Victorian detail has been restored, while the rear caters for the main family functions at the ground level with family sleeping spaces housed upstairs," Gibson said.

A home office perches above the staircase in the tall brick block and provides access to both the upper floors and a basement containing the children's playroom and a cellar.

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