Situated on a sought-after block, the original residence was constructed in a mock Victorian-era style and was demolished in its entirety to make way for RobsonRak's earthy and tranquil project. "The trees at the back were left, and other than that, it was totally new," says Kathryn Robson, one half of Melbourne based architectural and design studio Robson Rak. By starting from fresh, Robson Rak where afforded the opportunity to create a home that cohesively blended design, materials and nature, whilst promoting the wellbeing of its homeowners. The result is a space that is multi-layered and tactile and feels effortlessly at one with the encircling environmental landscape.
“A lot of consideration has gone into the health of the home and its inhabitants through things like light, natural ventilation, airflow and the injection of greenery into the home. We have really tried to create a healthy home that makes you one with the world around you.” - Kathryn Robson.
As well as responding to the natural environment, it was important that the home blended seamlessly with the urban fabric it is nestled within. The exterior facade fuses effortlessly with the surrounding streetscape, in both scale and style. The home is set back from the street, with a single story at the front and a double story in the rear, as well as a traditional driveway that is befitting of those homes surrounding it. “The scale of the home works with the rhythm of the street, rather than being imposing.” Kathryn adds, “the pitched roof and textural choices also respond to the vernacular of the street, and the scale of the new building is actually lower than the previous existing building." This lower set design produces a sense of enclosure, enabling a peaceful silence despite being located within the cityscape.
Connection to nature was an integral facet of the design brief and was executed by RobsonRak through the utilisation of enduring and grounding natural materials and by dissolving the divisions between interior and exterior. The kitchen bench is set off the boundary to allow room for a garden bed on the outside wall, where plants can grow and provide views of greenery.
Additionally, a steel structure constructed by Chris Rak, the second mind behind RobsonRak, encourages the growth of foliage within the home and doubles as a delineation between kitchen and dining spaces with a tapestry of greenery. An atrium courtyard, situated next to the stairs, invites additional natural lighting and ventilation into the heart o the home, whilst a green roof allows for vistas of green gardens from every window on the first floor. “From everywhere in the hallway and all of the rooms from the first floor, you’re looking down onto the green roof,” explains Kathryn. This dissolution between interior and exterior is further facilitated through the continuation of terracotta flooring inside and out, as well as tiered garden beds.
RobsonRak have opted for a distinctly earthy and restrained material palette in Terra Firma, which focuses on the graceful aging of the home and passively supporting the wellbeing of the homeowners. A focus on raw materials, such as bricks walls, solid polished plaster ceilings, terracotta tiles, marble benchtops rich timber furniture and leather upholstery throughout the home, creates a collection of texture and tactility that bounces natural light and highlights a connection to nature. Additionally, these materials will weather beautifully, as this was a vital consideration of both RobsonRak and the clients. “There is no maintenance to this house and there are no applied finishes – what you see is what you get,” clarifies Chris.
A poignant example of this aging process is the terracotta floor tiles used throughout the home, which will become polished over time and serve to remind the homeowners of the passing of time. Furnishing have been carefully selected to maintain this muted and considered palette, which draws inspiration from the immediate context and fuses a soothing array of raw natural timbers with green and earthy tones. The project capitalises on the tactility of textured furnishings, with Chris stating “To us, these different textures are like nature, which is also what is so calming about the interior design of the home." The end result is one which emanates tranquility and earthiness, whilst actively promoting the wellbeing of those who reside within.
“A lot of consideration has gone into the health of the home and its inhabitants through things like light, natural ventilation, airflow and the injection of greenery into the home. We have really tried to create a healthy home that makes you one with the world around you.” - Kathryn R
Terra Firma is an ode to Robson Raks continued commitment to creating spaces that promote relaxation, retreat, wellbeing and nourishment. With a focus on easy maintenance and the natural process of aging, Terra Firma has been infused with RobsonRak's years of experience in crafting spaces that passively soothe and support the inhabitants residing within them. Terra Firma is an artful and considered fusion of nature and function; a reverent appreciation of the surrounding environment and the passage of time.
CO-ARCHITECTURE COMPANY PROFILE
Location: Melbourne, Victoria
Architecture: Robson Rak
Interior Design and Styling: Robson Rak
Photography: Mark Roper
Builder: LBA Construction