The Bottle and Glass House Extension  NORTHCOTE

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This is a very unusual house extension. The original 'house' began life as a Temperance Hall - a venue where men and women would gather to hear about the evils of the demon drink and would be encouraged to abstain. It is called the Rechabite Hall after the organisation which built it in Westbourne Grove, beside the Northcote Town Hall in Melbourne. This function has long since been redundant and the hall used for community uses.

 

When well-known musicians Tim Humphrey and Madeleine Flynn bought it, they knew it would be an excellent venue for musical performances. It already had bedrooms, a bathroom and a kitchen attached, so they were able to combine home with work in this excellent location. What was missing was a Living area, and bedrooms for their two small children. The obvious location was at the rear of the hall, where the ground sloped down, suggesting a two-storey extension with the rear doors of the Living room down at the level of the garden.

 

It is not often that an architect gets a chance to design an addition to a Temperance Hall, and on this occasion the idea of extending in the original style seemed wrong. In fact Simon was afraid that it would imply that the owners approved of the concept of total abstinance - what a horrible thought!. Instead, there was actually an opportunity to correct the imbalance by designing an extension which embodied a positive attitude to the pleasures of alcohol. And what could be a more direct way of conveying this idea than the forms of a large bottle and glass?

 

The success of such a concept depends on the ease with which the brief (room types, sizes, materials, orientation) can be accommodated. It was clear that there was no problem here - in fact the shapes leant themselves easily to the forms of a bay window, a turret, a balcony and, in an inspired move by the owners during construction, a nook for their young boy to sleep in up in the neck of the bottle.

 

As the rear yard faces north, the extension and garden are delightful to be in on sunny winter days, while the deciduous vines provide summer shade.