A moveable feat

A moveable feat


From an award-winning architect emerges an extraordinary renovation that celebrates both the old and the new in unique style; including moveable walls.


Andrew Maynard Architects has a reputation for pushing the boundaries in his highly creative and beautiful design work. His Tattoo House, featured last year in Renovate & Extend, has won attention and press worldwide, as well as awards, including the Master Builders Award for Best Renovation 2008. And now Andrew Maynard takes it one step further: a house renovation that brings together a classic weatherboard house with a contemporary structure that includes moveable walls. 

Andrew describes the philosophy that drove this project: “Our practice is interested in the possibility of malleable and mobile space, especially in residential design. Though we have numerous conceptual designs that explore these concepts, the Essex Street house, with its removable walls, is our first tiny step towards building our numerous experiments.”

This particular residential alteration and extension was carried out to an existing double-fronted weatherboard house. The brief required two bathrooms, a bedroom, a living area, kitchen and increased connection with outside areas. The context is typical of inner suburban Melbourne. The site is double fronted with a deeper-than-usual block running east-west. The initial brief asked for an extension along the full width of the existing house.

According to Andrew, “The response to the brief was that any addition should run along a southern boundary to maximise solar access to new and existing spaces and to bring external space into the middle of the living areas. The original house has been restored to its simple four-room square plan. Rather than build a hard-edged or strongly defined object, the new structure has a blurred or vague edge. The recycled grey ironbark portal frames are of a larger, non-domestic scale. The use of screening and the glazed garage doors create a soft edge that allows the internal spaces to spill into the outdoor spaces.”

One of the features of this union of the original structure and the new addition is the vibrant red kitchen and a bedroom that links the two structures. Andrew describes this design element: “Within this structure are the small, colourful boxes of the bedroom and kitchen. These objects separate functions and act as a bridge between the original house and the extension. The internal plan is a simple linear organisation, however the overall design is not a linear one. The kitchen ‘box’ acts as the bridge between the old and new, acting as a negotiator between the two languages.

“By running the extension along the southern boundary, solar access is achieved in the original lounge, the new internal spaces and the outdoor space shared between them. Along with the protected and sheltered yard, the glazed garage doors allow internal activities to spill into the outdoor areas without the need for premeditation or separation throughout the year. Rather than hiding the bathroom function, we have opened it up into the yard so these relaxing and leisurely activities can spill into the yard.” 

As always, Andrew Maynard projects have a strong emphasis on incorporating sustainable principles into their structures, including this project. “Insulation, a sheltering context and well-designed sun shading makes the design an efficient home without the use of elaborate tactics or expensive equipment. The sun shading spacing was designed to minimise solar gain during summer and maximise solar gain during winter. As the seasons shift, forest-like dappled sunlight plays throughout the internal spaces. 

“The primary structure is a series of recycled grey ironbark portal frames with 12mm steel connectors at each junction. Within the portal structure is a simple stud frame. The glazed garage doors have a steel surround that fixes directly to the studwork and western red cedar battens shade the structure. Existing services have been extended. The client is planning to add solar panels to the new roof area, while the roof water has been articulated to points along the southern boundary to allow rainwater tanks to plug straight into the current plumbing.” 

Project Particulars:
Designed by:
Andrew Maynard of Andrew Maynard Architects
Suite 12/397 Smith Street Fitzroy Vic 3065 
03 9939 6323 

Recycled grey ironbark to circulation areas, 15mm blackbutt armourply 

Sanitary fixtures + bathroom fittings:
Rogerseller throughout 

Windows + external doors:
Double-glazed fold-up garage doors to lounge, master bedroom and bathroom, Centor bi-fold door also to bathroom 

Skylights: Velux 
Walls: Plasterboard 
Kitchen: Stained plywood 
Benchtop: Recycled hardwood studs from the demolished parts of the building 
Cabinetry: Stained plywood 
Rangehood: Smeg 
Cooktop: Smeg  

External photography by: Peter Bennetts
Internal photography by: Dan Mahon