Garden party: Figureground Architecture creates multifunctional backyard studio

Garden party: Figureground Architecture creates multifunctional backyard studio

Maximising living space in urban areas requires both flair and a practical mind; both of which came into play, when Australian firm Figureground Architecture was tasked with providing an existing white weatherboard Californian-style bungalow in Melbourne with a new standalone backyard extension.

The clients and their eight-year-old twins were in desperate need of extra room to accommodate activities and visiting guests. The addition of this much-needed outbuilding would provide a multifunctional space outside the main property, which would serve as a playroom, garage, workshop and a spacious guest room with en-suite bathroom.

Located within the suburb of North Fitzroy, a residential area of mixed architectural heritage, this structure required careful consideration. The architects needed to ensure a generous interior, without reducing much the size of the garden. There were few restrictions, apart from size constraints on side boundaries and the client’s request of retaining the property’s large walnut tree.

The ground floor of this two storey bolt-hole accommodates the client’s music studio, a storage room, a garage, play space and laundry area. The first floor is home to the guest room and bathroom.

A crisp, white timber skin clads the exterior. The material was chosen for several reasons; for its aesthetic, but also its durability against the region’s changing seasonal weather. The vertical white slats almost appear to peel away from the external walls, partially concealing the stairs and playfully blurring the boundaries between landscape and building. This approach continues inside, where a plush green carpet adorns the music room, referencing the yard’s greenery. 

A sculptural roof defines the upper level, sitting at an angle above the garage area. This gesture provides a double-height space, brightly lit through a translucent ceiling, which also serves as a play area. At the rear end of the studio, white-painted brick features a roller door that opens to connect public and private spaces.

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