Studiofour conjures Hygge at a house renovation in Melbourne

Studiofour conjures Hygge at a house renovation in Melbourne

How do you define ‘hygge’ architecturally? Providing comfort at home is different for everyone, many people like to feel soft carpet beneath their feet, others like to throw the windows open. For the clients of Australian architecture collective StudioFour, a family with Danish heritage living in Melbourne, their idea of hygge was an authentic house with an identity. The architects, led by directors Annabelle Berryman and Sarah Henry, took a holistic approach to the brief completely transforming an existing house into a powerful modern design, which through texture and colour creates an atmosphere of calm and mindfulness.

For a modern new-build house, it’s a challenge to ‘design’ authenticity. It’s a trait that often comes with age – a good house ripens over time and settles into its site, accepted by the earth. Memories also add layers of authenticity – cracks, stains and fades that become part of everyday living. An important part of Studiofour’s Central Park Residence therefore, was that it began with an existing house, and while the house has been transformed by renovation, this core became part of its identity, tethering it to architectural history. The architects – equally as romantically – describe this as ‘conserving the heart and soul of the forgotten’.

StudioFour Central Park Road residence

Brickwork played a major part of the new look of the house – structurally, bricks re-built the shape of the house into a low-rise, horizontal minimalist block. An exaggeration of its original form, which brought coherence and unity to the plan, the architects saw this new shape as a returning the house to its ‘essence’, while remaining strong and modernist. A new over-sized eave that marks the house’s entry, also creates space for landscaping and a sheltered outdoor area, as well as enhancing privacy.

Texturally, the bricks add warmth and character, with vertical joints and raking across existing horizontal joint lines. The bricks continue from the facade and into the interior, where the architects describe the walls as ‘unadorned and honest’. Said walls part to create portal openings to connect the rooms in a plan that has subtle divisions, yet is largely open, with glass walls separating the dining and living spaces. §

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