Rear view of Charles House by Austin Maynard Architects, with Eco Outdoor Endicott split stone pavers laid in a modular format
Charles House
Fitzroy, Australia
Sandwiched between McMansions and mock Georgian townhouses on a suburban street of Kew in Melbourne, sits a contemporary home designed by Austin Maynard Architects to be adaptable for multi-generational living.
Austin Maynard
Austin Maynard Architects Copy

Andrew Maynard, Mark Austin & Kathryne Houchin; Austin Maynard Architects

Austin Maynard Architects explore architecture of enthusiasm. The firm, based in Fitzroy in Victoria, treats each project as a unique challenge and working directly with clients and occupants. Their team offers individual possibilities and thoughtful responses to people, brief and place.

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Exploring the design brief

Austin Maynard Architects were presented with a brief that directly reflected the housing affordability crisis and challenges of aged and child care. The family of five desired a house they could enjoy for at least the next 25 years and one that would accommodate grandparents in the near future.“They wanted a home that would grow with the family, anticipating and accommodating different demands at each stage,” explains Andrew Maynard.

We aimed to create a home that didn't have a tall defensive fence, but instead offered openness and life to the street

Andrew Maynard

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Beyond accommodation, the client desired a practical house with the lines between indoors and out blurred. The garden, with its eclectic combination of primarily indigenous planting designed by Bush Landscapes, was to be low-maintenance and provide engagement, between the inhabitants. Rather than dominate the streetscape, the architects wanted to rethink the suburban backyard and for the architecture of Charles House to become imbedded in the garden.Andrew reveals: “We aimed to create a home that didn’t have a tall defensive fence, but instead offered openness and life to the street.” With light being a driving factor, the house was positioned on the southern edge of the east-west block with a school sports field at the rear.

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By breaking up the architecture into several smaller forms linked together, Austin Maynard Architects have managed to create a visually interesting home. Each of the forms are given their own personality by using different slate patterns, according to Andrew. Inspired by the slate roofs of old Edwardian, Federation and Victorian styles and with a covenant that demanded the new home was to be clad in stone, the architects wanted to connect with history without replicating it.“Each of the patterns used on the various facades are patterns recommended by the con-tractors, from their years of experience working with slate”, said Andrew. “The beauty, skill and detail usually lost to the sky up on the roof, can be appreciated close up at Charles.”

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Take a closer look

The success of Charles House greatly depended on the landscape as it was an important element to the way the client wanted to live and engage with the property. “The distinct architecture required a landscape that responded and connected to its form in a direct way,” says Bonnie Charles of Bush Landscapes.Folding the outdoor spaces in and around the façade of the house, the landscape connects visually with the architecture. Described as the “new bush landscape”, Bonnie planted a combination of low allergy, native and indigenous plants, together with edible and ornamental varieties. “The garden locates the house in the setting with a nod to its pre-colonial landscape,” explains Bonnie.

Signature Element Slate 1

Signature element

Used in a sophisticated, yet playful manner, the slate enabled each of the architectural forms to take on their own personality. The material has become a signature element with its varying patterns and textural quality. “The beauty, skill and detail usually lost to the sky up on the roof, can be appreciated close up at Charles,” explains Andrew.

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