HISTORY HOUSE, Alterations and Additions to Existing Victorian Home, Brunswick


THE DESIGN CHALLENGE – with respect to history

A classic triple-fronted Victorian home is situated on a leafy street in Melbourne’s inner north. The history home is splendid with grand rooms, generous fireplaces and luxurious ceilings, but the layout is a rabbit’s warren of interlocking spaces that are mostly without much light and minimal outlook.

Cathi Colla Architects

This house has a fantastic history of inhabitants and related tales – but that is a topic for a different conversation! More recently the house has functioned as a doctor’s surgery and a home.

Unfortunately, the existing layout of the home does little to maximise the northern aspect. Views towards the lush garden are blocked by walls and, as a result, the central living spaces feel dark, cluttered, and dis-functional.

THE DESIGN SOLUTION – acknowledging history

The solution to the history house calls to strip away the dysfunctional 1950s additional to the original home. This relieves the rear of the home from the barrier, and liberates opportunity for a contemporary living areas with direct access to the garden to the north.

This gesture liberates the history home and re-orients the primary living spaces towards the sun and to the garden.

Through the design development process, to best respect the history and resolve the history house, we tested form, material and colour against interior and exterior schemes with a view to comprehensively respect and merge stylish history with contemporary amenity and delight.


The new zones now comprise functional indoor and outdoor spaces for living, eating and socialising – connected to the rear garden, a plunge pool, and the sun.

The owners now love living, eating and socialising with friends inside and outside the home with history – Melbourne’s fickle weather is no obstacle to a successful party. The home is now a place to welcome friends and family, to enjoy summer gatherings on the deck and within the home. It is also now a place to embrace winter’s warming sunshine through extensive north facing glazing, creating a cosy environment well connected to the north and to the garden.


See also Cathi Colla Architects’ Heritage Home, Clifton Hill


Do you have a home with history?
Interested in tracing the history of your house?

Start the process by heading to the National Library of Australia site “How Do I Trace the History of My House? Or, for homes in Victoria Victorian Heritage Database.

Project Team
Cathi Colla Architects
Interior Design
Cathi Colla Architects
Structural Engineer
Meyer Consulting
Project Details
Architectural Services
Concept Design, Design Development
Project Status
Design Development Complete

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