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Acheson Place, Coburg North

This project revolves around the simple but transformative act of cutting a hole in the middle of a large existing volume

  • Shortlist – Residential Alterations & Additions

    Victorian Architecture Awards 2019

    Design Response

    This project revolves around the simple but transformative act of cutting a hole in the middle of a relatively large existing volume, creating an intimate internal world which unlocks access to light, air and visual aspect. A diverse collection of internal spaces gather around this void and establish intriguing relationships of view, reflection, connection, separation and occupation.

    The upper level dwelling is wrapped around the central courtyard with direct access from the street whilst the reading room, study and bathroom look into the courtyard from below and serve both the art studios to the front and rear as well as the living spaces above. The vertical stair connects from ground to roof deck through the private internal world of the central courtyard, terminated and celebrated by the stepped pyramid (ziggurat), a place to rest and reflect whilst capturing both neighbourhood and city skyline views.

    At one point in the design process a conversation arose regarding the selective addition of colour. This awakened the shared memory between ourselves and our client of azure kingfishers swooping through the Towamba river valley on a trip to southeast NSW. With a modest allocation of alluring (but expensive) colour back glass tiles, a feathered three colour pattern was developed which lightly touches the walls of all wet areas where the memory of the kingfisher comes to land. The granite paving, stepping stones and Kurrajong tree also come from this region, a spiritual second home for the owners who have family in this area and return there often.

    The project was completed with limited funds, made possible by several thousand hours of owner labour and the extensive use of salvaged materials: Steel windows from a demolished school building, glass from decommissioned telephone boxes, hand collected granite fragments and timber flooring seconds along with numerous other fixtures and fittings purchased through gumtree and ebay. This project was built almost entirely by the owners themselves with extraordinary precision, care and finesse fed by a commitment to realise something without compromise despite limitations.

  • Services Provided

    • Full Services


    Workshop Architecture


    Project Director: James Staughton
    Project Team: James Staughton, Christy Bryar, Peter Knight
    Photographer: Christian Capurro

    Date completed

    September, 2018


    Coburg North, Victoria

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