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Highbury Grove by Ritz&Ghougassian


When I first came across this striking architectural home I was surprised to learn that it was once a traditional Melbourne house. Located in Highbury Grove, an area defined by a street frontage of uniform federation style cottages amongst leafy suburban gardens, the property has undergone a remarkable transformation by Melbourne-based architects Ritz&Ghougassian

Required to deal with the heritage street frontage (take a look here) and a laneway to the northern side of the property, the project responds by creating an architectural envelope that orientates to the north whilst providing privacy to the public laneway. Space is loosely defined by a series of concrete block walls that rest upon one another to overlap and enclose the architectural space within. The apertures between the walls create framed views outwards towards neighbouring trees or to a courtyard garden of swamp banksia and Australian tree ferns. 

Bedrooms in the existing house were modernised with spotted-gum floorboards, while new hearths replaced neglected fireplaces. The elevated portions of the blockwork walls denote the location of the living areas, which are flooded with daylight entering through clerestory windows.

A minimal material palette of concrete and contrasting eucalyptus-fronted joinery provides a bold and robust backdrop throughout. The wood's distinctive grain repeats across surfaces that extend along the sides of the rooms. I love how the introduction of curtains brings about a textural softness to both the living area and bedrooms, while stone surfaces in the ensuite further compliments the natural materials, bringing a sense of cohesiveness to the overall look. 

Photography by Tom Blachford

The pared back curation of furniture and lighting enhances the home's material palette and includes some of my favourite pieces including the Arflex Marenco Sofa, Flos Taccia Table LampPK22 chairs by Poul Kjaerholm and Surface Sconce by Henry Wilson.  

Images via Ritz&Ghougassian

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