Bluff: Light and space in the city

Space is the key word when it comes to an inner Melbourne project by NTF Architecture, known as Bluff.

The Hawthorn East build was a renovation that saw the limitations of many old houses - low ceilings, small rooms, no flow to the outdoors - overcome with some modern style and contemporary sensibilities.

The Hawthorn East build was a renovation that saw the limitations of many old houses - low ceilings, small rooms, no flow to the outdoors - overcome with some modern style and contemporary sensibilities.

WELCOME: A facade offers privacy and shade on the north side of the house. Photo: David Kulesza

WELCOME: A facade offers privacy and shade on the north side of the house. Photo: David Kulesza

Originally a 1960s dwelling which saw a minor refurbishment in the 1990s, this project saw NTF Architecture work with the bones of the house to create something beautiful and, above all, livable.

OPEN: The living zone was opened up to allow a seamless flow from the inside to the outside. Photo: David Kulesza

OPEN: The living zone was opened up to allow a seamless flow from the inside to the outside. Photo: David Kulesza

The clients' brief called for an open plan home, with generous living spaces on both the ground and first floor.

The original floor plan showed restraints in the functionality of day-to-day living, so an emphasis was placed on creating a family home centered around easy living.

The clients loved the idea that they could completely open up the living zone to allow a seamless flow from the inside to the outside, something that the old house did not allow for.

Photo: David Kulesza

Photo: David Kulesza

Large full-height doors allow the flexibility to control how the internal and external living spaces connect.

The space was made seemingly smaller by ceilings that hung lower, and floor levels that could not be changed.

In order to alleviate this sense of enclosure, double height voids in areas both internally and externally have been introduced to emphasize the sense of space and create much larger volumes.

The play on scale has created not only an interesting design detail, but has opened up the space in way the old house did not allow for.

In particular, the void at the entrance also allows for a better connection between the ground and the first floor.

The size of the new kitchen has been increased by bringing the working space right out to the boundary line, adding both size and functionality, without compromising the overall area of the living and dining area.

A skylight runs directly above the kitchen's floor path, which continues the connection to the outside that we see throughout the rest of the house.

As the property faces north, a large screen wraps around the facade of the house, to not only offer the first floor privacy to the street, but also as passive shading to the north facing windows.

NTF Architecture prefers to use the original bones of the house where possible.

Capturing the clients' imaginations to understand the benefits of this is always a priority for them.

Not only does this approach acknowledge the characteristics of the original dwelling and its setting, but it also ensures practicing sustainable design by limiting new materials and unnecessary alterations.

This project saw the use of existing structures and materials, which were not only beneficial in terms of costings, but also allowed for an incorporation of a visually striking design feature.

The new home now showcases original glass bricks that run vertically up the south side of the house, a contemporary adaption to a classic 1960s trend.

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