Kiah House

Architect: Austin Maynard Architects 2016

North | R08

Building Description

Kiah House is an addition and renovation to a 1927 Edwardian-era weatherboard cottage in North Fitzroy, Melbourne. The new extension comprises two separate pieces of architecture, the master bedroom ‘haven’ and a dedicated office space for the owners to work from. The master retreat opens up to the garden and ponds blurring the lines between inside and outside. The retreat includes a sunken brick bath featuring an earthy character similar to the ancient Japanese Onsen made entirely of recycled and hand cleaned bricks salvaged from demolition sites around Victoria. A strong connection to a small private garden, created in the gap between the new addition and the old house, offers a relaxed feeling of bathing within the landscape. Above, accessed via a spiral staircase is a dedicated office space that overlooks the master retreat below covered with a green roof and the garden below. The office is long and narrow, lined in timber, with perforated steel shelving. A towering lemon-scented gum tree dominates the backyard like a wise old elder. Rather than shy away from it or cut it down as some of the neighbours requested, the owners encircled and embraced the tree, metaphorically and physically. From the retreat you can reach out and touch the beautiful old gum. From the office you are in amongst it, amid the branches and leaves. A mural painted on the exterior of the office facade seeks to bring forth the innate power and energy that nature has within. The kitchen offers up a sculpturally crafted island bench made from salvaged and recycled timber over 100 years old from the CSR sugar mills at Yarraville. With double ovens, zip taps, sous vide, heat lamps and custom designed storage space this is cosy and intimate from day-to-day, yet can also open up for entertaining large gatherings. Although the site is small, natural light and air have been maximised to all spaces. The openings and windows have been designed to optimise passive solar gain with double glazed windows; a green roof covered in Australian native succulents provides additional insulation; and a rainwater tank captures roof water which is re-used in the toilets and to water the garden. Kiah is an indigenous word meaning ‘beautiful place’ and for the owners, the house fulfils their desire to have spaces that allow them to entertain family and friends but are also adaptable to create solitude and privacy when needed.

Fitzroy North, full address available on booking.

What's On

A guided tour of the entire house by the owners. Tour lasts approximately 30 minutes and includes detailed drawings and sketches by the architects.

Stay in the loop