Sensitively restored by Bower Architecture and surrounded by a richly layered garden by Eckersley Garden Architecture, this mid-century heritage home has been given a contemporary facelift.
From the street, the mid-century bones are revived with the home’s original features and proportions celebrated. But it’s the lush planting palette of green tones that takes centre stage.
“The idea of the mid-century frontage was to keep it simple so as not to take away from the architecture”, says lead landscape designer and Eckersley Garden Architecture director, Scott Leung.
“We wanted an understated textural palette of plants and surfacing throughout with meandering paths connecting the various outdoor rooms. Our vision was for a slow reveal walking through the garden with several framed views of the outdoor spaces from the inside.”
It is in the rear garden, where the new architecture with its geometric screened façade comes into its own. The restrained, yet, distinct white veiling was influenced by the home’s original 1960’s metalwork.
From a distance the façade appears to be a simple elevation, however, it’s on close inspection the proportions and detailed pattern work become apparent. In an interview with The Local Project, Jade explains the screen not only acts as a functional element controlling light and airflow but also softens the monolithic scale of the building.
“The external screens act as a protective veil to the exterior and internally assists in controlling temperature. The screens also allow for varied external views when sections are opened/closed and for ever-changing patterned shadows to filter through”, explains Jade Vidal, architect and co-director of Bower Architecture.
Punctuated openings were strategically positioned in the metal screen work to allow for greater connection with the heavily, layered garden. “It wasn’t about a house that had every single door opening up to the landscape,” says Jade, “more about the framing views and connections to the garden through careful positioning.”
While the garden was reasonably sized challenged, what it lacked in square footage it gained in visual impact thanks to a rich plant palette.
“We concentrated mostly on the greens with the introduction of some mid-century plants reflecting the era of the house. Overlapping sweeps of textures and layered plant heights providing seasonal flowering colours of predominantly blues and whites with a burst of reds and yellows in autumn from changing foliage,” explains Scott.
In shaded areas, Scott created surprising pockets of large foliage greens. “We used ‘old school’ plants like Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera deliciosa) and Japanese Aralia (Fatsia japonica) that reminded us of our childhood and further connected the mid-century feel to the garden.”
Endicott Flagstone and steepers were also used to reference back to the home’s era. “It was always the favoured stone for the project as Bower had previously used the material on past projects,” says Scott.
In the front, the Endicott Flagstone cuts through the exposed aggregate driveway which was purposely designed of a darker colour to highlight the natural tones of the split stone. “The mix helps to recede the drive keeping the Endicott Flagstone and the greens of the garden as the heroes.”
In addition to channelling the mid-century feel, Scott says the texture of the Endicott was used to offset the strong contemporary form. “The flagstone also works beautifully as meandering steppers.”
Both the architecture and garden of the New Modern project has overcome the challenge of maintaining visual consistency between the new and old without replicating the design language of the past era. The extensions proportions and materiality, coupled with the planting and paving, work with the new and old with little effort, providing cohesiveness throughout the site. “An overall success designed on subtlety,” remakes Scott.
Photographer: Bower Architecture