At fifteen feet wide, this old Victorian three-story row house is only as wide as the average car is long, but it proved to be no challenge for one of Australia’s up-and-coming young architects, Andrew Maynard. Moor House, located in the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy, Victoria, had been quietly aging and fading away, until Maynard got his hands on it.
The renovations initiated under Maynard’s careful watch were both aesthetic and eco-friendly. His choice to leave the front of the house as it was—unassuming and gently crumbling—makes the renovations seen from the back of the house almost startling. Playing off the monolithic structure characteristic of Victorian houses, Maynard removed the back wall completely and replaced it with three large glass rectangles, two of which jut out from the upper levels of the house in staggered formation. The windows are framed in bold outlines of black and red, giving them a sleek, modern look. These windows are arranged so that the house may benefit from natural lighting throughout the course of the year—the eaves capture light from a low sun in winter, directing it toward the internal living space, and shield the house from direct sunlight in the summer when the sun is high. The sunlight collecting and deflecting powers these eaves and additionally aids in the thermal regulation of the house. The thermal mass in the concrete floors holds onto the heat from the sunlight in the winter, slowly releasing it throughout the day, heating the home, while in the summer the floors remain cool. These cozy renovations are a testament to the possibility of beautiful, environmentally friendly fix-ups for historic homes that offer only limited space.
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