Architect’s concrete home stands out on conservative street
by Rebecca Gross
Eye-catching Melbourne home encourages passers-by to linger a little longer.
Zoning, the division of spaces by use or users, has become increasingly important in residential architecture. In many homes, the traditional ‘sleeping’ and ‘living’ zones have been supplemented with ‘entertainment,’ ‘outdoor,’ or ‘children’s’ zones to make living easier, more efficient and more comfortable.
This is certainly the case in the concrete edifice referred to as #328 Wolseley, in Brighton, Melbourne, where layout and spatial flow has been planned specifically for the way mckimm residential design founder and director Nick McKimm, with wife Anna and their three young children, use and share space. “The layout and flow embrace the living spaces, private spaces and external areas seamlessly with an unconscious sense of connectivity for the inhabitants,” says Nick.
Who lives here : Nick and Anna McKimm, their three children and border collie, Boo
Location : Brighton, Melbourne, Victoria
Year completed : 2014
Size: 1040 square metres (site); 4 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms plus ensuite, 2 living rooms, study, steam room, gym and entertaining basement
Architect: Lorenzo Garizio, principal designer at mckimm residential design
On a quiet street in Brighton and occupying a site formerly home to an Edwardian house, #328 Wolseley is in a neighbourhood characterised by conservative homes. But with a bright blue mural by Lucas Grogan painted on the outside wall, #328 Wolseley stands apart from its neighbours.
One solid concrete wall of the house abuts a laneway used by locals and the colourful Grogan mural “is now being enjoyed by all those making their way past the house,” says Nick. And as a touching tribute to Anna’s much-loved mother, the mural – on closer inspection – is inscribed with the words ‘linger longer’, one of her favourite sayings.
The home has an introspective aspect centred around a pool and garden zone that can be seen from the entry. This inward-looking layout enhances the depth and symmetry of the structure, offers privacy and optimises the north-western orientation.
Designed by mckimm’s principle architect Lorenzo Garizio, the house spreads over three levels. Four bedrooms with bathrooms and the ensuite are on the top level, and two living areas, a kitchen, gym and steam room are on the ground floor. A chill-out space for the kids is in the basement, along with a bar, cellar, media area and terrace.
This layout and spatial flow has been designed to bring the family of five together in the main living room and kitchen, while also giving everyone the flexibility to go their own way. “By using zoned areas with interaction between spaces and each other,” says Nick, “the design responds to the daily lives and routines of the family.”
On the ground floor, the kitchen, dining and living areas wrap around the terrace and pool. The kitchen is centrally located “as the heart of the home,” says Nick, “allowing dining, living and outdoor entertaining spaces to be easily serviced.” And with full-height glass doors and direct access from each area, this space has the feel of an open pavilion.
The kitchen island brass benchtop glimmers against a backdrop of dark timber joinery. Left unsealed, Garizio says the benchtop was designed to patina, age and wear, as everyday use gives texture to its surface.
Three brightly coloured doors adjacent to the the kitchen joinery conceal the children’s lockers. “The children chose the colours,” says Nick, and each has their initials on their door.
“The main living area is where we spend our time together as a family. It’s a beautiful warm room, with lots of natural light, high timber-lined ceilings, a wood-burning fireplace and full-height steel windows.” The space is inviting, comfortable and relaxing – with warm materials tempering the rawness of perfectly honed concrete and featuring the industrial feel of steel-framed windows. American oak panelling, fabrics, lighting and rugs contribute to a minimal decor that has a contemporary Scandinavian feel.
Vast expanses of glass take advantage of Melbourne’s changing light, as do airy ceilings and the L-shaped plan of the living area. “Natural light filters in from every angle,” says Nick. “From expansive glazing covered with sheers in the dining area to slim envelopes of light, such as clerestory windows, steel-pivot windows in the living area and a circular window in the main bathroom.”
In the more formal – but still very comfortable and relaxed – second living area, Lucas Grogan‘s mural is a stunning wall feature that is so integrated with the architecture of the home, it’s placement matches the exterior mural.
In addition to their orientation around the outside area, the sense of connection between the ground-floor spaces is enhanced through a consistent material and colour palette. “Textures and natural materials were used in equal measure to create light-filled, warm spaces,” says Nick.
Upstairs, doors and windows slide back in the bedrooms to overlook the pool and courtyard; and the warm and neutral colour palette continues the Scandinavian feel.
mckimm residential design
In the main ensuite, an oculus window overlooks the side alley (see image 2), while geometric tiles are a colourful and playful addition to another bathroom.
Downstairs, “the basement offers an entertaining retreat,” says Nick. Fitted out with a ping-pong table, bar, cellar, drum set and media room, there is something for every member of the family.
The warmth and richness of the natural textures and materials continues throughout the space, as does the introspective architecture. The media room looks out to an external sunken terrace and courtyard with a tiered garden.
Outside, order, symmetry and crisp lines are integral to the aesthetic of the house. Off-form concrete is rendered in light grey and complemented by teak decking and boundary fencing. Full-height windows and doors frame every outlook. The alfresco area between the kitchen and pool has a built-in bluestone barbecue and outdoor dining.
With an introspective aspect, #328 Wolseley has been designed to “provide beautiful views from all rooms to garden and pool,” says Nick. Plus, of course, “the kids love the external play area, pool, trampoline and purpose-built basketball area.”
With highly-considered planning, the architect’s home has also been designed to accommodate the various functional spaces of day-to-day life: “Busy mornings, school-time activities, task areas and recreational spaces all facilitate our desire to be at home, entertaining family and friends and enjoying our children,” says Nick.