Richmond Inner City House

Resident architecture expert, David Hallett from Ask An Architect, gives us his opinion on the Richmond Inner City House from Episode 5, Season 4 of Grand Designs Australia.

Context is often in the eye of the beholder, where one person’s charming residential neighbourhood can be another’s gritty industrial precinct.

Melbourne’s Richmond is much like any other inner-city Australian suburb with rows of pretty terrace houses flanked by an assortment of factories, warehouses and office buildings. So which is the real Richmond and what is the context for development?

The answer, of course, is that it all is.

Richmond’s eclectic collection of building types reflects yesterday’s history and today’s reality, making a singular context impossible to define. Perhaps the only common characteristic is scale, with a predominance of two-three storey buildings making up the dense, rich substance of the suburb.

It is into this architectural mash-up that Darren and Ruth have shoe-horned their new home…a home that echoes the rhythm and scale of the neigbouring terraces but with a form and finish that owes more to commercial construction.

Such recognition of the plurality of the broader environmental context is the hallmark of quality in-fill development but it’s not about compromise – it’s about having the best of both worlds. It’s about respecting the past whilst embracing the present. It’s about having the chook-pen and the hydraulic lift…and making sure that they complement each other perfectly.

This home is a clever blend of old and new; of rustic and modern; of handmade and heavy-engineered. The soft edges of recycled timber, craftsman’s fingerprints and nature’s intervention come together with the hard edges of steel, glass and concrete to create a home with something for everyone, even the neighbours!

Credit must go to the architect who has skillfully woven together a range of interior and exterior spaces that make the most of a tight site. Well done to the builder too, who has pulled off a tricky build…not to mention realized a unique, ‘pop-up’ roof-top lift!

Opposing forces often produce a stalemate when neither side is prepared to give ground, but sometimes they combine to elevate the outcome to something special.

This is one of those times.

Visit Ask An Architect for more information.

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