A Japanese-Inspired Home That Experiments with Interior Design

My name’s Chris Gilbert and I was a project lead for harry house Coburg’s in the north of Melbourne bound by Sydney Road and Lygon Street so you have lots of amenity around this area and fantastic access to things like Merry Creek um great food on Sydney road and it was only 10 minutes from our studio so it was really fantastic working in the local context the site was originally home to a double front head pre-war weatherboard cottage the client wished to maintain as much of the warmth of the entry through that cottage as possible but really wanted to produce a new lens to this amazing kind of ram shackle garden that existed out the back which was a mix of fig trees and like overgrown kind of multi-generational um foliage really it was super interesting super deep but the old house didn’t connect with it at all so the brief was to really reorientate the living space to create a frame to that lush garden i grew up in country


Victoria spending a lot of my time building cubbies and tree houses in our small little bush block and there’s something kind of primal and childish about that element of play that you really want to replicate when you grow up like you want you want the best parts of that to come through into your everyday life and we had a client that was interested in pursuing that as well so the outcome is something that is quite unique to the standard kind of Melbourne like box on the back of a pre-war cottage you end up with something that’s much more playful much more dynamic it’s like you’re living inside a textural object the front part of the house retained the original cottage and it’s not obvious that there’s been a big renovation done when you first arrive the sight line from the front door takes you straight through the extension to the garden and the fig tree and people are immediately drawn to that i’m Tanya i’m one of the homeowners here i live with my husband Pete and our three boys who range in age from 6 up to 16. Harry is our dog and the house is named after him by our youngest son who used to ask if we were visiting the harry house when we were doing site visits the material selection in this building was quite important we really wanted materials that would age well be robust and be quite honest like honest carpentry and you know materials and textures that had a life and had like errors and mistakes in them because that that’s what kind of makes the tree house it’s not this perfect polished thing the concrete obviously is never going to go anywhere but also the INAX board it’s indestructible

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it’s actually fireproof so i’ve got Japanese heritage the house has deliberately incorporated Japanese style design elements archer already used those in prior projects and it was one of the things that attracted me to work with them we have an old mizuya tansu an old Japanese piece of furniture which is quite large and we wanted to make sure there was space for that to be incorporated into the project the challenge of a long narrow site of course is how to get light into all rooms of the house so for this building we kept the original pre-world cottage and

inserted a courtyard between the new and old building and what this does is allow natural light straight into the rumpus room and like deep into it the main kids living space while also allowing the landscape to wrap all the way around the building so no matter where you are in this space you’re looking out into the garden the floor area of this building is quite tight we’re talking just a little a bit over 200 square meters so in order to get the maximum amount of amenity within that frame or that envelope we needed to look for alternate solutions one of which is providing soft netted areas in the voids rather than additional rumpus rooms and what the nets do which is pretty interesting is allow you to occupy an entire space without needing furniture so rather than a room needing to be four by four to have a couch in the corner you can just have a two and a half by three meter space and occupy that entire zone obviously we use a lot of glass in our projects and in particular this project and we find it really helps connect the user with the landscape um ends the sky like these boxes are pretty unique really you have the opportunity to see garden and get this really great sky view factor so the full height glass really captures both of those elements another very Japanese element was the design of the bathrooms and that was having a separate separate spaces for the toilet a separate space for the basin and a separate space for bathing which is how Japanese bathrooms are configured lots of people talk about kitchens being the heart of the home and in that respect this project’s no different the step down kitchen is really fantastic because it allows the person who’s using the kitchen to for their workspace to be at 900 mils and just perfect for preparing food where the people on the other side of the bench space are interacting with an object that’s much more like a piece of furniture at table height the house has been incredible to raise a young family in i love the light i love being in the garden seeing the seasons and the weather change i love relaxing in it the project has exceeded all my hopes and expectations it’s incredible i’m most proud that tanya’s happy with the outcome you know it’s her house that was designed for her and her family and if she’s happy we’re happy you know it’s a family house for living not for filming ironically

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