As is often the case with residential renovations, architects are required to think through a myriad of issues – heritage street frontages, assimilation of the new ‘box’ hopefully not merely plonked on the back, addressing how to integrate the existing space and the new, making the new build sit in sharp contrast to the existing surrounds or to have it sit in harmony. The list is endless.

Highbury Grove in Prahran is one such residence. It is defined by a street frontage of uniform federation style cottages set in orthogonal rows and folded in amongst leafy suburban gardens. The architects, Melbourne-based Ritz&Ghougassian were required to manage the heritage street frontage whilst retaining the privacy of the public laneway to the northern side of the property. They responded by creating an architectural envelope that orientates to the north. The original character and detailed heritage front has been expressed as a singular, white silhouette.

Spotted gum flooring throughout the residence replaced the decaying timber flooring structure and the neglected fireplaces were cleaned up and new hearths replaced. The spaces are loosely defined by a series of perpendicular heavy-set concrete blockwork walls.

The first, a set of walls running the length of the site sit below a second set that align themselves to the northern aspect. Resting upon one another the concrete walls overlap and enclose the architectural space within. A burnished concrete slab provides the foundation for this masonry whilst the most elegant, steel lintels to the underside and tops of walls allows the user to read the tectonics and dynamism of the space.