Beyond House, Northcote

Illuminating a south-facing heritage terrace house

“Ben has worked with us through all stages of our home renovation – design, development, council approval, documentation, tendering/negotiation, and project management. He has brought imagination, knowledge, solid experience, an eye for detail and a good work ethic to the project. He has listened to us, but brought extra back – which has given a better result than just agreeing with us or telling us what (we thought) we wanted to hear. Arrangements and relationships have been refreshingly transparent and respectful.” – Tim & Karen

With Beyond house we seek to stretch the boundaries of the typical terrace house. The existing heritage house was south-facing, dark, cold, narrow and overshadowed by neighbouring walls on both side boundaries. It’s owners, a family of three, were detached from the world beyond. They are serious about sustainability and wanted the new addition to be naturally comfortable, using sun for heating, breezes for cooling, water harvesting, solar power, recycled materials (even re-using the old kitchen!) and integrating and indoor clothes-airer. We looked beyond the site constraints and beyond the typical spatial boundaries within a terrace house’s rooms and levels.  

Through the insertion of central void, adjacent to a multi-purpose studio space, opening onto a roof deck, the occupants engage with the world beyond – the sun, breezes, sky and trees. Internal planters and many carefully placed openable windows (internal and external) bring the external environment in from beyond. Rooms are openable to share light, breezes and views across the void. These elements break down the barriers typically within and around a terrace house to create social connections between occupants unified by the flexible open spaces and visual connections to the sky, tree-tops and now visible Ruckers Hill community beyond.

“By creating a lantern-like high void above the kitchen that pulls in daylight through a big west-facing window, and draws in northern light via the deck’s wall of windows, the kitchen is bathed in a daytime glow.” – Jenny Brown, Domain


Beyond Brilliant, Sanctuary Issue 36, Spring 2016

A Narrow Escape, The Age Domain, 18th March 2016

‘Beyond House’ in Northcote pushes boundaries,, 30th January 2018


2016 Sustainability Awards, Winner Heritage Category

2015 International Green Interiors Awards, shortlisted.

Photography: Peter Bennetts