Nido House by Angelucci Architects, A Victorian Terrace Reworked For A Family
Many single-fronted Victorian terraces were originally occupied by large families. But with gentrification in the 1970s, many inner-city cottages became highly desirable, particularly by professional couples. However, this single-fronted terrace in North Carlton reversed this trend for a family of six, a couple with four young children who commissioned Angelucci Architects to rework their home.
“Our clients had an attachment to the area. Their families are both Italian and one of their grandfathers had lived in the area,” says architect Enza Angelucci, director of the practice, who worked closely with the owner builder, Chris De Stratis, who operates Bel Arte.
While Angelucci Architects retained the home’s original front rooms (now the main bedroom, walk-in dressing area and ensuite) on the prominent corner site, there was a need to extend the home’s footprint on this modest plot, 113 square metres to be precise. And although some architects prefer to work on large homes on generous sites, for Angelucci, a considerable amount of pleasure comes from making every millimetre work. “The importance with terraces such as this one is making sure that there’s sufficient natural light and importantly, extending sight lines,” says Angelucci, pointing out the view of the neighbouring front gardens in the Victorian terraces immediately to the north of this property. So, rather than simply staring at a blank wall, the owners can enjoy both the northern light and aspect from the elongated picture window in their kitchen.
The other strategic move made by Angelucci and her team was to reorientate the point of arrival. Previously via the traditional picket fence and front door, access is now by the side entry, an arched door that is aligned to the street pavement. “I took the form of the arch from the plaster arch in the original hallway,” says Angelucci, who was also keen to create a lighter and slightly more frivolous, almost decorative side elevation. Hence, there’s a play on new bricks, along with the ‘drip line’ of slate tiles that extends from the roof to the side wall. “Victorian houses are recognised for their highly decorative features. I didn’t want to reproduce these features but create a contemporary interpretation with some of this detailing,” she adds.
Unlike the former arrangement which required entering the front door and walking down a long dark passage, one arrives via a courtyard, framed by commercial glass doors that can be pulled back completely when the weather permits – blurring the lines between indoors and out. And with the renovation came a new kitchen/dining area, orientated to the north. Featuring granite benches and concrete floors, this modest space feels considerably larger due to the ceiling heights and pushing out the walls to the boundary. Angelucci also installed slim vertical joinery in the kitchen to further add to a sense of space.
Confiding that this house was designed for a family, the brief included not only additional bedrooms (with the children’s bedrooms and bathroom on the first floor), but also a second living area. Given space was limited, the only way was to excavate. And for a couple with four young children, this basement rumpus room was a godsend. “They can make as much noise as they please down there. But there’s also the main living area immediately above so parents can keep an eye on things,” says Angelucci.
While roof terraces, cubby houses and dual living areas are common in detached homes, finding this amount of amenity within a single fronted cottage, is extremely rare. And unlike the former arrangement that turned ‘in on itself’, this family home engages with the neighbourhood – something North Carlton is known for. “There’s also the benefit of having everything close by – from the parks to the shops and library,” adds Angelucci.