Gestalt Northcote

This project sets out to challenge inhabitants’ perception of scale and in and around built form while celebrating daily & seasonal cycles.   

Tight site constraints have resulted in an extension comprising a rear open kitchen, dining & living space, opening onto a north courtyard, along with the restoration of the front section of an Edwardian weatherboard house with complementary adjustments made in response to contemporary, sustainable living.

Ceiling and wall forms have been conceived to play on inhabitants’ perspectival awareness, borrowing from the idea of the Ames Room. An inhabitable Gestalt space, offering more than a singular open plan space. The building and items within hope to stimulate the viewer, depending on their location and vantage point, the space appearing sometimes longer, narrow, taller, shorter, larger and smaller, also affecting the perceived scale of the inhabitant.

The key device here is a triangulated, angled cedar ceiling, suspended over the extension and extending outside, wide at the rear and tapering back to the point in the house where old meets new.  
Scale is further engaged with through the composition of the north courtyard façade, thick, cantilevered eaves, over scaled north window and deliberately thick frames. 

High level windows, oriented on a north-east angle allow direct rays of sunlight to bounce morning light off ceilings and walls into the space. A cheery space to be in on a sunny morning. Direct afternoon sunlight is minimised, yet allowing diffused natural light to illuminate the space after 1pm while shielding the house from the hot summer afternoon sun. 

Formally, the extension takes its initial cue from a simple pitched, gable roof form, however the ridge beam has been angled and split into two, separated by openable clerestory windows, hidden in the most part from the inhabitant. These windows, located at the highest section of the ceiling, permit free passive cooling and ventilation when desired.   

Gestalt Northcote represents an ongoing fascination in scale, space perception and natural light.

Photos by Tanja Milbourne

From the Owners:

We engaged Ben to carry out the design and contract administration for the renovation and extension of our Edwardian home in Northcote and couldn't be happier with the outcome.


Ben and his team (Minnie & Vern) were 100% professional, always available with advice and were a pleasure to deal with. Ben is not only creative but is truly passionate about what he does which shows in his work and attitude. He was able to not only provide us with a unique build but also challenged us to think outside the box.


I would use Ben and the team at Statkus again and would highly recommend them to anyone looking to engage an architect for their project.

Environmental Considerations


Thermal Mass: The existing weatherboard home has been improved with new underfloor, wall and ceiling insulation, while the extension comprises and insulated concrete floor slab, insulated framed walls, insulated ceiling and double glazed doors and windows

Heating: The house makes the most of its northerly yard orientation with strategically formed eaves and tall glazed north facade allowing winter sun to passively heat a polished concrete slab, assisting the hydronic heating.  

Cooling & Cross Flow Ventilation: The extension features a tri fold door and a hinged side garden door, able to be left open with retractable or hinged insect screening allowing the whole house to be passively cooled or ventilated via cooling southerly winds.  

Lighting: In the extension, high level north east facing windows sufficient light throughout the day within the extension, even when overcast. Direct sunlight is permitted in the mornings, by around 1pm, depending on the time of year, direct sunlight does not shine through the high level windows.  Two double glazed skylights in the existing entry hall provide natural light along with glimpses of sky. All lights are LED.