MELBOURNE – ‘Converted warehouse’ might sound like a hip house-flip but can overlook the fact that the space now stores humans rather than objects. For one such residence in Melbourne’s Fitzroy suburb, the original renovation in the late 1980s failed to include climate control that would make for a comfortable home most of the year.
Locally-based Andrew Maynard Architects took this practical upgrade – along with a new car port – as a basis for a recent intervention to the Westgarth house. While retaining certain existing features – such as the timber-lined ceiling – that define the warehouse structure, the design replaced the double-height front envelope of the volume with steel-framed glass. Automated, aluminium brise-soleil along the upper level moderate entry of light and heat to the interior. A steel, mesh balcony along the outside of this new wall provides further shade.
However, the project also sought to make the residence more visually inviting. An existing courtyard that had been cut out of the shed proved no more than a trifling attempt at domesticating the structure, with director Andrew Maynard describing it as ‘dark and damp’. The firm accordingly focused its efforts here, paving the deck with warm-tinted wood and digging a pond and soil-bed to host vegetation. The new balcony peeks over the otherwise unassuming outer brick wall to offer views of the city and has been wrapped in a sleek, perforated balustrade. With almost everything cast in the pristine white of the existing shell, why, might you ask, a deep purple for the inner façade? ‘That colour was not my choice’, says Maynard. ‘After much discussion, I did not win that argument.’