Tiara House / FMD Architects
Textual description provided by the architects. Sculpted by the decorative qualities of its site and setting, Tiara House is a lively addition to a late 19th century Victorian terrace in Melbourne’s inner north. The two-storey, north-facing residence, which overlooks the historic gardens of Edinburgh Gardens, inspired FMD Architects to adopt an emotional and sustainable approach to the new addition, providing a poetic response to a place centered on amenities and ease of living. The house’s ornate facade is designed in a neutral palette, enhancing the original iron lacework, skirting and decorative plasterwork. Upon entry, the expansive arched entryway, formal front room and original wood staircase have been carefully preserved and infused with shades of blue, creating an airy sense of mood and occasion. The second bedroom is converted into a shared bathroom, full of curved shapes, dark blue tiles, speckled terrazzo, luminous granite and reeded glass.
Furthermore, the existing 1970s lean-to on the site has been replaced with a soaring, light-filled addition that embraces a warm material logic, combining fluted wood inlays, white brick and custom assembled concrete floors. The challenging southern orientation inspired FMD architects to pursue connections with the landscape on every side, drawing multi-layered gradations of natural light. The laundry next to the new bathroom opens to an east light well, bringing light into the kitchen and living areas, while the rear garden extends to the west, activating the addition’s main circulation path with a framed natural view.
The expression of the stone bench, covered in sweeping hardwood inlay, is reflected in the curved shape of the sliding rear door – an organic opening to the eclectic landscape beyond. Designed in collaboration with Joe Ferguson Gardens, this farm provides an ephemeral view of native species, cottages and the Mediterranean, reflecting the Aboriginal history, the site’s past and the clients’ personal narratives. From the rear elevation, a floating veil of wooden beams surrounds the upper floor, its sweeping, stepped form recalling the details of the historic rotunda of Edinburgh Gardens and the decorative character of the house. This ‘crown’ shape can be seen greatly on neighboring properties, and provides a sense of ornamentation to the blank Victorian rear facades typical of the era. Its ribbon-like shape contributes to the layered roof, providing a new language of adornment for residents and their neighbors to enjoy.
Upstairs, the crown screen has a landscaped deck accessible from the master bedroom and protected by a curved steel canopy. The timber-lined farmhouse ensures visual privacy to neighboring properties while allowing views across the rooftops and the city skyline beyond, which is carefully framed by a recessed form in the west wall. Internally, the master bedroom and robe have a gentle palette of soft blue and white, while the new en-suite bathroom is decorated with dramatic striped stone and green veined stone, adding a decorative quality. The remaining bedrooms have been carefully restored, their original wood floors stripped and limewashed. The new mirrored panel playfully reflects the scale of the decorative wooden staircase, further connecting the diverse atmosphere of the two-story home.
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