I got a bit excited when I saw this lovely little Paddington house by Adrian Amore Architects – for two reasons. Firstly, I have just realised that of all the focus I put on wonderful, contemporary, Australian Architecture, I have not yet featured a house from my home state of NSW – travesty! And then I noticed that AAArchitects are based in Melbourne; their Paddington house simply being a tasty diversion from their usual Melbourne-centric architectural works… I guess the NSW feature will have to come later!
Secondly, well, I just find this house exciting. In fact it’s a funny sort of backwards excitement that I feel here because actually this space takes me back in time to other houses I’ve seen and been in in the past, houses which felt warm and homely, and which have hummed away quietly in my memory for years, waiting to be awakened by some unknown visual cue, which happens to be this house! So it’s not because this house is supremely cutting edge, or high-tech, or sculptural, or any of that normally ‘exciting’ stuff that I find it exciting, but rather that it is deeply and comfortingly recongnisable underneath its lovely, polished cloak of contemporary design. This means a lot to me in a world where design can sometimes end up being purely the cloak, with little underneath in the way of meaning or feeling.
Paddington Terrace House Extension by Adrian Amore Architects
Really what we are looking at here is a room, rather than a house. All the more impressive then that this sole room has such evocative power, considering that usually it takes a composition of several spaces to provide the sort of layered detail and classic livability that this little extension provides. I have very little notion of what the rest of the house entails, but what I see in the kitchen, dining, living, outdoor space, and bathroom are enough to convince me. If I had just one neat, sunny bedroom alongside these spaces that would be fine by me!
I think what works so well in this airy, one room extension is the clear delineation between what are distinct, and yet unapologetically interconnected living areas, allowing differing functions to occur in each area without compromising on the benefits of shared solar access, garden vistas, and cross ventilation that open plan spaces provide. Materiality and interior fitout play a big role here, subtly dividing the space into three clear and functional rooms, each with an ever so slightly different feel, as suited to the tasks beheld within.
The kitchen sits at the innermost depths of the room, its material palette restrained and yet warm. The under bench timber cabinets lend the room a sense of cosiness, whilst those that rise to the ceiling at the edge of the kitchen neatly define this area as distinct from the hallway. This small space is layered with carefully considered elements, including large, stone tile splash back and an island bench for sitting at and chatting with the cook. The material choices and layout combine to give the kitchen a distinct, welcoming identity that encourages one to linger within.
The dining room is denoted by a small glass and timber intrusion poking into the side boundary of the house. This clever interaction increases the surface area of the building envelope, bathing the dining room in light and giving extra light to the kitchen and living room via the two extra planes (and panes!) of glass, facing each of these rooms respectively. Moreover, this moment creates a tiny courtyard between the house and side fence, giving a previously non-existent sunny green outlook to all three areas and grounding the dining room table within the open plan space.
The living room sits at the outermost edge of the space and opens fully to the courtyard garden by way of fine, black steel bi-fold doors set within a deep timber (interior) and black steel (exterior) reveal. Highlight windows further dissolve the line between inside and out along this rear facade and allow welcome glimpses of the sky within the house’s highly built up context. This room is the epitome of light and airy; the sort of space within which one could sit and ponder in the sunshine for hours on end.All images from Adrian Amore Architects, photography by Felix Forest