Showcasing a thoughtful, client-centred approach to renovating, Ruskin Street is stunning, sustainable, and truly unique.
Designing a house is more than just creating a functional living space, it’s about crafting a home that reflects the story and character of its owners. This was the philosophy driving B.E. Architecture whose latest project is a stunning example of how to bring that ethos to life.
Ruskin Street is a renovation and extension to a heritage Edwardian terrace in Melbourne. But it’s not just any renovation; it’s a project that brings the narrative full circle, as one of the firm’s earliest residential projects was done for the client’s parents nearly 25 years ago.
The design brief for the residence was to explore how materials, detail, and architectural gestures can define a home and give it its own distinct identity without relying on a form-driven response. With the restriction of the site, the transition from old to new became something less tangible than a physical separation, rather, focused internally as defined by changes in volume and finding unique ways to reference details without leaning into pastiche.
Meanwhile, the rear of the house took on a more enveloping and richer feel, with walls and ceilings painted in a sand-textured mineral paint in sage and eucalyptus greens. The use of colour reinforces the idea that each material has its own identity and value, providing a collection of moments that change throughout the house.
What’s particularly impressive about this residence is how it demonstrates a progressive approach to architecture and design, which is most apparent in how the design deals with the restrictions of a small, narrow triangulating block. These restrictions had to factor sightline issues which eliminated the option of a two-storey extension.
Instead, the design team came up with a single ground floor response, retaining the existing key front rooms of the original building while demolishing the rear to allow for a new consolidated floorplan for the main living, kitchen, dining, and study spaces.
But it’s not just the design that makes this project stand out. The clients, two working parents with two school-aged kids, live busy lives and needed a tranquil and calm place to come home to at the end of each day to recharge. The house puts them in touch with nature, with the enormous Cypress posts that smell like a sauna when it rains, the dappled light that shines through the Japanese window gardens, and the beautiful natural materials that were chosen for the house.
Sustainability was also at the forefront of the design process, with a series of passive principles integrated into the design for a more considered approach. Through decisions such as passive sun shading techniques and thermal insulation, the project showcases how best-practice sustainability principles can be incorporated into a design without sacrificing aesthetics or functionality.
Overall, B.E Architecture’s Ruskin Street residence is a true standout in its category, showcasing how a thoughtful, client-centred approach to architecture and design can result in a stunning, sustainable, and truly unique home.
Architecture – B.E Architecture
Builder – JGF Creative
Photography – Victor Vieaux
This project was entered in the 2022 INDE.Awards – entries are open now, find out more here.