Host House

The Evolution of Host House: A Journey of Material Exploration with a Monochrome Palette


The chronological evolution of this home’s multiple interventions is showcased through material exploration and a monochrome colour palette.

In the inner-city suburb of East Brunswick in Melbourne, architects Chris and Asha of Splinter Society Architecture purchased a “tiny, very run-down, one-bedroom worker’s cottage” due to its well-positioned site and orientation to sun and light. Over its 100-year lifespan, the remnant cottage had been “tinkered” with, but Chris and Asha were happy to let the project evolve over time, spending the next 17 years renovating and creating their dream home.

A Grand Designs Australia Project

“In the 17 years we spent on the project, we had a little scruffy dog named Fern who passed away last year at 16 years of age, and we have a six-year-old. We spent from our mid 20s into our early 40s working on this project. As our family changed, we were able to modify the home to grow with us and in doing so, it was like a living being that we were inhabiting,” shares Asha.

monochrome colour palette

Key objectives in the original design brief were for the home to offer its inhabitants respite from its inner-city, industrial suburb surroundings. A strong connection to greenery, as well as the sky and natural light, were of most importance. To achieve this, the pitched roof volume was first extended to run from the front to the back of the site. This extruded volume contains the open-plan living spaces and one of the home’s three bedrooms, leading out to a pergola and back garden. New, vertical black volumes form a loft-style master suite and an additional bedroom.

Working harmoniously together

Folded planes with vertical windows allow in an abundance of natural light. While the home’s footprint is rather compact, it feels expansive due to this considered placement of windows, skylights and green spaces.

“My favourite part of the house is the way light penetrates it at different times of the day and throughout the year,” says Asha. “It gets really beautiful gold westerly dappled light onto the textured internal walls in winter and due to the various windows and skylights, the shadows and patterns are ever-changing.”

various ways the light penetrates the home

Throughout Host House’s development, Asha and Chris spent a lot of time in Japan and West Africa, developing a love for these cultures and their celebration of texture and hand-craft.

While the home’s architecture portrays a clear black and white distinction (a bold statement that juxtaposes the old and the new), the interior material palette incorporates various textural elements. Interior surface treatments showcase material exploration across the home’s multiple interventions, from sustainable rough-sawn timbers and textured plasters to formed concrete and rough-cut stone. These textured surfaces produce dynamic effects throughout the day as the light changes and filters through the vertical windows and skylights.

A Modern Grand Designs Project

“Working harmoniously together, the charm of the original cottage and fine hand-crafted qualities of the new elements take full advantage of the corner East Brunswick site,” enthuses Asha.