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Austin Maynard Architects Union House

It’s very difficult to operate normally at the moment because of COVID-19. Compared to other regions in the world (who are experiencing a second wave) Australia is relatively unscathed. Nevertheless, there are still pandemic hotspots and in particular the state of Victoria. Even though daily cases have significantly dropped there are still certain suburbs of Melbourne on lockdown. That is why I was pleasantly surprised to receive a press release from Austin Maynard Architects announcing the completion of Union House.

I am a huge fan of Austin Maynard Architects and featured their magnificent ‘Toy Management House’ in my gold award-winning ‘Australia Modern’ book. Over the years I have written about many spectacular residential homes that have not been restricted by budget or land size. In contrast, Union House is an ingenious modern extension to an existing heritage house. Within the inner suburbs of Melbourne land comes at a premium because of exceptionally high property prices. Therefore, to create space conducive for a modern family requires lateral thinking.

In reality it would have been very easy for Austin Maynard Architects to demolish the existing dwelling and start from scratch. However, there is a particular charm about these heritage buildings that needs preserving. It’s also pertinent to mention that the owners three teenage son’s saw Union House as a ‘forever home’. Therefore, project team Andrew Maynard, Mark Austin, Natalie Miles had to find a sustainable solution. The answer was to create a 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom family house with a study, basement rumpus room, roof deck and a carport.

In a similar fashion to ‘Toy Management House’, Austin Maynard Architects have injected a lot of fun into this project. For example, the basement is accessed via as steep slide rather than a conventional staircase. To give the illusion of space the project team have created split levels and ramps, hidden slopes, concealed steps and bookcase walls that split apart. Also materials like CLT (Cross Laminated Timber) glass, perforated steel and concrete have been used very effectively.

The owners Heidi & Craig are delighted with the finished product and it’s also on the ‘Dezeen Awards 2020, ‘Longlist’.

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