Responding to its inner-city location and unique heritage context, Albert Villa aims to create a contemporary residence that connects strongly with its urban surroundings while preserving the character of the adjoining locally listed dwelling. Key to the design was to maximise the use of the limited site area while seeking access to light, views and air flow, as well as maintaining privacy and security. Resulting from an extensive design process that included detailed town planning and heritage consultation was an outcome that yielded two distinct forms sitting adjacent one another separated by a breezeway and 125 years.
The design is focused around a series of living spaces arranged around a landscaped courtyard located in a new pavilion at the rear of the site. The new pavilion houses the living, dining, kitchen and master bedroom, while the existing residence – Albert Villa, provides three bedrooms and a small sitting area in the typical four room cottage arrangement. The existing residence, constructed by Peter Albert in 1885, is a north facing timber framed structure featuring a bull nose veranda to two sides at the north and east and an attached kitchen wing to the south which was constructed shortly after the main residence in 1886.
The project is situated on a steeply sloping site located toward the top of Wellington street and is located one house removed from Petrie Terrace. The land is overlooked by larger commercial and residential structures and is surrounded by three streets to the north, east and south – which overtime have pleasantly evolved as useable outdoor urban spaces.
The form of the building has evolved as a series of shapes which replicate the roofs, peaks and materials of the local area while articulating key lines of the existing heritage cottage. The external walls, openings and courtyard surrounds are arranged to modulate privacy and views and to claim space and create security for the occupants.
Key to the brief was the connection to landscape and the need for this small site to offer a similar level of green amenity to standard suburban back yard. A central courtyard assists in defining the break between the new and old houses while a layering of horizontal and vertical landscape is used to soften the internal built form.