North Fitzroy Veil House

An 1880s single fronted terrace that suffered from the common ailments of rising damp, drafts, structural movement, creaky floors and dark spaces has now been remedied by a complete house renovation and extension addressing a tricky south easterly yard orientation.


The project comprised an extensive renovation to the existing house, including new floor structure and remedial works to address structural movement and moisture issues, new flooring, a new bathroom, laundry and kitchen. A small rear south east facing extension has created flexible space for dining, study and living functions all visually and physically addressing the courtyard with a centrally located Japanese Maple and vista of sky, rooftops and chimneys.


The house is compact and the extension is very small, allowing the occupants to open and close various facade elements creating in effect a triple condition threshold to the rear yard facade which effectively increases & decreases the building's footprint to suit the seasons.

Winter; The frame-less glass operable facade can remain closed during the colder months with the curtain stored within the cupboards. Winter sun is allowed into the interior offering clear views into the yard along with a reduced internal building volume to heat.

Spring & Autumn; The operable glazed facade can be opened across the full width of the rear facade on suitable days with the curtain either stored within the cupboard or drawn across the eaves line. The interior space is substantially increased offering a clear or veiled view to the rear yard.

Summer; On hot days, the glazed facade can be left closed reducing the interior footprint and volume to mechanically cool. With the curtain drawn across the new rear eaves line shade protection is provided. On cool evenings, the glazed facade can be opened with the curtain drawn to passively cool the house.

The curtain provides an ephemeral facade that moves with the breeze, filters sunlight and offers an alternative to the slick retractable insect screens across large openings.

This project responds to a desire for natural light and ventilation, qualities that are often missing from single fronted terrace houses. It also offers the possibility to change with and adapt to seasonal changes and daily cycles.

The project is informed by Shigero Ban's wonderful 1995 Curtain wall house in Tokyo, adapted for an inner Urban Victorian terrace typology.


ESD Strategies

A small site and a south east facing yard orientation required a specific response. The adaptability of the rear facade means the building can effectively be increased & decreased in size to suit the weather conditions and user preferences, while also allowing the occupants to adjust the building to suit seasonal weather variations, reducing reliance on mechanical forms of heating and cooling.

This has also enabled the extension to be more compact than it otherwise might have been.

The extension has been realised to avoid and minimise disruption and demolition of the existing building, utilising the embodied energy of the existing house.

The difficult south easterly site orientation has been responded to by locating skylights inside and outside the building.

Smart LED lighting throughout can be programmed and remotely operated.

An existing ducted underfloor gas heating system has had all ducting replaced with insulated ducting with newly insulated floors & ceilings.


Photos by Nic Granleese


From the Owners:

Statkus Architecture was briefed on the renovation of, and an extension to, an inner city Melbourne Victorian cottage. The house was previously renovated around the 1980s and needed a complete refresh - essentially a re-build - comprising new flooring, re-rendering brick walls and replacement of kitchen and bathroom. The 3-metre rear extension was designed to link the house to the back garden via moveable glass wall and transition from the floor boards of the house to decking. The design cue was to "bring the garden into the house". 


Another design cue was to "have a progression in time of the interior from the heritage listed front of the house (which was to stay true to the 1880s build) to reveal a contemporary extension as one walked through the house". 


The final design response met and in most cases exceed expectations. Statkus Architecture was able to turn the brief into a great design response. Despite this being a relatively small project, Ben, the architect was enthusiastic and very diligent in all aspects of the design and build. We found a balance between our design requirements and his creative final design. 


Statkus Architecture was easy to work with. The Contractor chosen for the build was highly competent, efficient and had great attention to detail. Other than some surprises the 130 year old house had in store for us and difficulty with the flooring supplier, the build was completed on time and close to budget. 


We were very pleased with the outcome.