The main feature of this house was a stunning two storey voids on top of the living room. It added drama and light to a south facing back yard which could have felt otherwise cold and dark. (In fact prior to the renovation dark and smokey was what the tini-tiny living room was all about.) Designed by Ardent Architects and built in collaboration with Beirin Projects and BuildHer Collective the key to this renovation was to maximise the small 340m2 site with a south facing rear aspect. I think they nailed it with the void and created a large feeling home featuring three bedrooms, two living rooms and two bathrooms.
The void is pivotal to the design, bringing together the upstairs and the downstairs and adding drama as you walk from the traditional Edwardian front of the house and step down into the modern open plan space. We often use a few steps or a play in levels to help transition from old to new, and from a build-ability and longevity perspective transitioning materials from stumps in the old house to a solid concrete floor allows them to move independently reducing the likelihood of cracking and movement in the structure.
When we design family homes having a traditional front really helps but its all about the open plan living. A modern and open space that a family can enjoy and function together as a unit is very important. Its not always size that counts as we have seen many larger spaces fail. They fail as they don’t feel inviting or allow the family to feel at ease and comfortable. Have you ever been in a room of such large proportions that you don’t quite know where to be? The scale can be off and the furniture just seems to float. A tip to avoid this it to work out how the furniture sits in the room, draw up a couch in scale and have a go placing them in the room. You might be surprised at the way floorpans can look deceptive if you are not used to reading them. Too big and too small can be and issue.
Suspended fireplace by Aurara Fires
When we had designed this space I showed the plans to an architect who was arguing with us that the void had no purpose as there was no added floorspace. Luckily we had the foresight to see that without the additional volume to the lounge area it would have felt enclosed and small. Voids can be used to increase the feeling of volume and add drama to many spaces. We find that every house needs a few well though out features, but not too many! The main features of this house on Bastings St, Northcote are a suspended fireplace and two voids which helped to create a relationship between the ground floor and first. All the materials that were chosen were done so to complement the void and space.
I think our love affair with voids is still in full force…. More coming this way.