When a family of four in Fitzroy, Melbourne, found themselves rapidly outgrowing their home of eight years, they called upon the services of local practice Andrew Maynard Architects to reconfigure the modest terrace rather than abandon it altogether.

Maynard, his business partner Mark Austin and their team reworked the old house's size and shape, extending towards the rear garden with a series of colourful, cedar-clad volumes. Though the front façade maintains the simplicity of the traditional terrace, the cantilevered upper level creates a visual break when viewed from the rear. Meanwhile the internal arrangement was entirely redesigned to open up the spaces and bring in more natural light, improving on the small, dimly lit rooms of the original.

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Aiming to maximise the interior while remaining sympathetic to the original structure and its context, the architects removed a lean-to at the back (a later addition to the old brick house) and widened the house's footprint to make up for the loss. Within the larger space, they transformed the layout and carved out three functional volumes panelled in local spotted-gum timber.  

The ground-floor living and kitchen areas are located at the rear, with the bedrooms split between the two stories. All the rooms feature steel details in the exposed structure, window frames and doors. Vast widths of glazing on the top floor bring in light and offer views towards the surrounding workers' cottages through the trees.

The architects made sure to preserve an original courtyard between the house and its neighbour, home to an impressive Japanese maple tree. 'The family often found themselves conversing through this lightwell,' says Maynard. 'We retained the maple, expanded the lightwell and surrounded it in glass, bringing the tree into the living spaces. Now the conversations between spaces and levels, through the maple, are better and easier than ever.'