Courtyard House | Robson Rak Architects

Description byRobson Rak Architects:

Behind an unassuming façade, the Courtyard house opens up to reveal a pared back design response, mixed with luxurious materials, and practical detailing. This existing building has been altered and extended, with the interior design responding to our client’s love of Japanese architecture and rituals.

The site is 7.5m by 46m with minimal street presence wedged amongst two large double storey residences. Our design response was to create two large courtyard spaces that brought light and greenery into all living areas, and created a much larger interior space that continues to surprise as one moves through the house. The brief called for a complete modernisation and re-fit of an 80’s home. The client’s wish was for a restrained material palette and a strong connection with nature.

Modern amenities such as a lift, cellar, and butlers pantry were added to the house along with furniture and fittings that would bring the building up to the desired current standards. Linearity is achieved by methods such as built in seating and joinery, created to avoid interrupting this flow with superfluous furniture. Every room has a strong connection with nature; even the cellar we created with leather banquette seating has a low window looking out to the courtyard whilst also limiting sun exposure to the wine. As an integral aspect of our design response, we collaborated closely with a landscaper (Ed Purcey) on the external spaces to create the desired outcome of reflection and relaxation. The house opens to the outside and embraces the elements, resulting in the feel of a much larger space.

The interior design contains many hidden and built in elements that allow the rituals of life to be carried out with ease and no fuss. For example, at the entrance, a long joinery unit cantilevers into a bench that functions as a seat. When one enters the house, they can sit on this bench seat, remove their shoes, and place them in the drawers in the joinery unit, like a contemporary getabako shelf. The remarkable aspect of this building is that one can exist within it and feel quite removed from the noise and stress of day to day life that is situated on their doorstep. It is a building to experience life, and take refuge from life. The constant connection to nature is prevalent, even in spaces one would least expect it from. For example, one can sit comfortably in a dimly lit cellar and still have a view and relationship to the courtyard.

Design Office: Robson Rak Architects

Location: Melbourne, Australia

Photographs: Shannon McGrath

Merricks House | Robson Rak Architects

Design Office: Robson Rak Architects

Location: Victoria, Australia


House in Australia | Robson Rak Architects


Description by Robson Rak Architects:

This tired Victorian residence was given a complete re-design with new addition completing the vision. Although the house uses fully automated technology, it’s disguised by a warm, textural palette. A timber ribbon of floor and wall travels through the house creating a harmonious, seamless transition from old to new.
The clients’ initial brief was for a scheme which would see new rear living spaces opening to the outside. Another requirement was to have these new spaces fuse seamlessly with the re-modelled old part of the house.
We demolished the original 80’s addition previously elevated 1 metre above the back yard. We relocated this change of level to the end of the hallway and carried the original ceiling height through to a new addition with a generous ceiling height of 3.8 metres. This addition consisted of living space, kitchen, pantry, and laundry.
A new bespoke brick fireplace; designed to be viewed as you enter the original residence, acts as the central axis for the new areas and links back to the bricks in the existing heritage façade.
The kitchen area has full-height bi-fold doors allowing for complete integration to outside. A living area with banquette seating has large sliding windows allowing the outside in. We explored materiality and light to fuse the old with new and to define spaces within the new.
The flooring has been replaced in the original residence with a dark oak which then wraps up onto three walls of the new addition, acting like a ribbon and also creating joinery. This allows for a seamless integration between old and new. A large skylight allows light to beam down upon this transitional space.
Spaces within the new extension are defined by materiality. The kitchen area achieves its own identity with the use of light oak joinery and pale reconstituted stone for benchtop. A concrete floor helps define the new extension but also allows the dark oak, light oak and brown brick fireplace to co-exist within the same space. The brown brick fireplace is a constant reference and reminder of the brick façade of the Victorian house.
Within this warm and textured palette hides a house which is fully automated and technologically advanced.
This tired Victorian has been restored and revived to meet the challenge of another hundred years of relevance. The house is fully automated and future proofed with cutting edge technology. This clever automation is disguised within the organic palette of materials, with no technology is on show. This achieved a seamless integration between old and new interior architecture. To achieve an honest and authentic palate that has longevity, the majority of the joinery is constructed from engineered timber floorboards. Sustainably, double glazed doors/windows were used in the new addition ensuring a consistent temperature is naturally maintained.

Design Office: Robson Rak Architects

Location: Malvern, Australia

Photographs: Lisa Cohen + Mark Roper