Traditional workers’ cottage converted into modern family home

© A For Architecture

Heritage preservation buffs will wisely point out that the greenest building is the one that’s already standing — and we are also finding out that they are often the healthiest ones too, using less toxic building materials and designed for natural ventilation from the get-go.

In Australia, traditional workers’ cottages, built by factory owners for their employees during the middle of the nineteenth century, were once a common sight in the cities. Many of them have since been demolished to make way for new developments, but there are some that still remain. In Melbourne, Australian firm A For Architecture redid one of these small cottages for one family, creating a compact, light-filled home that’s also warm and modern.

© A For Architecture

Some of the walls that previously divided up the space were taken down, while at the front, two original bedrooms were kept. In the original workers’ cottage, the bathroom was located at the rear. The new scheme has the bathroom, laundry, storage and kitchen relocated to the middle of the long and narrow site.

© A For Architecture

The living areas have been moved to the back of the house. The home’s new layout feels open on the inside and to the outside, thanks to an open plan concept and huge sliding glass doors at the back of the house that connect the interior to the garden. More natural light is brought in with strategically placed skylights.

© A For Architecture © A For Architecture

A for Architecture’s Anna Rozen says:

The owners craved a connection to the rear garden and flexible spaces where kids could play or parents retreat. The front portion of the house containing two bedrooms was retained, while the back of the house was re-imagined into one large open volume that stretched the full width of the site. High ceilings, mirrored skylights and glazing along the entire back wall gives the illusion of space and offers an uninterrupted connection with the garden, a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor living spaces.

Existing brick walls are emphasized with bold painted designs, while the newer additions stand out with a somber, modern-industrial feel. Says Rozen:

The material palette of concrete, brick, timber and black was chosen for its robustness, able to endure the children’s scooters and footballs whilst also exuding a clean and uncluttered aesthetic.

© A For Architecture © A For Architecture © A For Architecture © A For Architecture

The bathroom is beautifully done, with a bathtub tucked under the stairs going up.

© A For Architecture

Perched on the level above is a well-lit workspace, as well as another bedroom.

© A For Architecture © A For Architecture

It’s a well-thought out and well-executed design: the spaces here have been redone to be flexible, and able to adapt to whatever the future may hold for this family — yet more proof that one doesn’t have to demolish what’s already there to achieve something that will be efficient and stands the test of time. See more over at A For Architecture.

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