in melbourne, sunlight floods oscar sainsbury architects’ timber ‘arthur house’

Oscar sainsbury builds a light-filled extension

The so-called Arthur House was previously inhabited by Oscar Sainsbury, founder of Australian practice Oscar Sainsbury Architects (OSA), along with his family. It had once featured a ‘lean-to’ extension, which the family opted to tear down and replace with a contemporary extension, including a new kitchen, dining, and living area at the rear of the house. This intervention in Melbourne, made of timber and opened up with extensive glazing, was designed to contrast with the solid brick of the older part of the home. As a result, the house is now modern and flooded with natural light, creating a seamless connection between its interiors and its garden beyond.

oscar sainsbury arthur houseimages © Rory Gardiner@arorygardiner

expanding an historic home in melbourne

This double-fronted Federation house, an architectural style prevalent around the turn of the 20th century, has been renovated by Oscar Sainsbury Architects to create a more spacious feel. The architects incorporate a carefully-planned series of openings and a strategically introduce addition that connects it to the outdoors. This addition serves as a communal area for family living, with smaller secondary spaces — both indoor and outdoor — such as a study, deck, and garden that extend the central living area. This design emphasizes family bonding while also providing opportunities for personal space.

oscar sainsbury arthur house

arthur house: old meets new

With its ‘Arthur House’ extension, Oscar Sainsbury Architects maintains the sturdy and enclosed style of the pre-existing brick structure, which opens to the front of the property. In the middle of the site, a new north-facing deck has been built on the ground floor level. This deck allows for easy outdoor access from both the old and new parts of the building.

Meanwhile, the new rear addition is elevated above the ground due to a flood overlay that flows towards the nearby Birrarung, or Yarra River, preventing construction below the existing floor level. This living pavilion is made of timber and glass and opens to the surrounding landscape on three sides. The backyard can be accessed through a series of large concrete steps with double seating benches. Adjacent to the dining table is a large sliding door that completely disappears from view, offering unobstructed views of the backyard and the two large peppercorn trees located at the rear of the property.

oscar sainsbury arthur house

designed with a sustainable spirit

Designing the Arthur House extension, Oscar Sainsbury Architects incorporates passive solar orientation and rainwater collection, allowing for ample natural light and cross ventilation. Occupants are also encouraged to adjust the dwelling’s openings and shading to accommodate changes in weather. The use of consistent materials both inside and outside of the building serves to connect the internal and external spaces and create a cohesive design.

oscar sainsbury arthur house

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