Sending a Love Letter to the Neighbours


Words by Anthony Richardson

Sometimes we can get lost in thinking what the buyer of our house wants, so we design and build for them. However that wasn’t the case with King Bill, Austin Maynard Architects were approached by a family of four who wanted their “forever home'“.



It seems more-and-more these days that we’re only focused on getting a bigger return on our houses. So we build as much as possible, and instead of having what we want, we think of what the next buyer might want. However, a family of four in Fitzroy wanted a “forever home”, and wanted their home to give something back to the suburb they love. They approached Austin Maynard Architects asking for a renovation to their 1850 two-storey terrace and wanting more living space but did not want a huge home. The site is located in the lively back streets of Fitzroy, and has an eastern garden which were recently consolidated onto a single title.

For those who have walked the streets of Fitzroy, you know how diverse the suburb is. If you have yet to visit Fitzroy, the suburb is full of brick terrace homes, weatherboard cottages, pot-war homes and 1960s flats. There are corrugated sheds, old factories and warehouses, as well as pocket parks and dense gardens mixed in with an grungy but vibrant atmosphere. It’s a suburb with a rich history and a bright future. So how do you design a home extension in such a collaged neighbourhood? Simple, design something that will contrast with the immediate surroundings with little touches that show you understand and respect the suburb and its past and future. And this is what Austin Maynard Architects did with King Bill.

There are four main elements, the existing terrace, the new corridor, the stable and a new glass pavilion. The existing terrace has been completely revamped, with the entry porch now a garden and the entry corridor a bathroom now. There is a certain level of delight the owners get seeing their visitors trying to figure out how to get inside now! The new entry is actually found to the west, with a new corridor which connects the terrace and pavilion through punched-out holes in the existing boundary wall, and the stables at the rear. The glass pavilion houses the new kitchen, living and dining and has a strong connection to the garden. The stable at the rear, as you’d expect for such an old structure, wasn’t in the greatest shape. However the original brick walls, internal fireplaces and timber beams were kept and now contains a car-stacker and parents retreat.

As with many Austin Maynard Architects, there is a real connection to the outside. With an already established garden with Ornamental Pear and Silver Birch trees, they went to great lengths to save these. Cleverly the concrete slab of the glass pavilion cantilevers beyond its footings, to avoid encroaching on the root zone, and the foundations for the Y-shaped steel framing were designed to pierce the ground in the smallest way possible. These Ys were also arranged in such a way to avoid trunks and branches.

When you look at King Bill, there is one thing that really stands out, the use of material. Allowing it to define each addition, Austin Maynard Architects used corrugated metal cladding in a variety of ways depending on the situation. With the profile of the cladding, it was able to create the curves of the glass pavilion, as well as guiding rain water and provide shading on the stables. Double-glazed glass and concrete slabs, along with the use of timber and recycled brick really help to reinforce the diversity of the suburb.

It really shouldn’t come to much surprise that this house has taken out the Residential Architecture (Alterations + Additions) award at the Victorian Architecture Awards 2018, as well as a Commendation for Houses Awards 2018. It’s also a finalist for World House of the Year for the World Architecture Festival and listed in Dezeen’s World’s Best Architecture Awards 2018 for Houses. However after all the awards are presented, this house will remain as the client’s ‘forever home’.

Good architecture requires a great client. King Bill’s owners are a dynamic and enthusiastic family. While the strategies have not changed greatly since the first sketches, the addition of curves was something that the owners were very keen to see.
— Austin Maynard Architects


Project Name _ King Bill
Architects _
Austin Maynard Architects | | Follow AMA on Twitter @AndrewMaynard
Location _
Area _ 407m²
Project Completed _ 2018
Photographer _
Derek Swalwell
Builder _
CBD Contracting
Engineer _
Net Engineer _
Landscape Architects _
Bush Projects