Hawthorn House

Architect Kennedy Nolan description of this project;

Additions and alterations to a vast and previously altered Victorian villa.

Our work on 10-12 Kooyongkoot Road Hawthorn is just the latest in an extensive and diverse range of architectural assaults visited upon this grand old dame. We believe that the particular significance of the house is as an unusual hybrid with more than one heritage expression of great value. It began life as a polychrome Victorian villa built in local Hawthorn bricks but it appears that there were subsequent additions in later Victorian styles and a major overhaul in a patriotic Australian version of Edwardian or Arts and Crafts style. The taxonomy can’t be precise because the house is clearly the idiosyncratic result of a fevered imagination untroubled by notions of stylistic correctness. More recent work on the house was carried out in abject reproduction but happily the majority of the valuable history of this house was preserved when we started our work.

In terms of an approach to heritage, our aspiration was to balance the architectural imperative of re-presenting the sprawling house as a cohesive, integrated whole against maintaining the legibility of the various iterations of the house.

Our method was firstly to edit – removing the reproduction Edwardian garage at the front of the house as well as compromised fabric at the rear of the house.  New fabric was generated through interpretation – finding a contemporary expression visually compatible with the heritage fabric but avoiding anything completely passive – we wanted to tell a story about the heritage, so that it made you “see” some of the interesting elements of the heritage styles.  The most prominent element we designed was the gym studio (which also serves as an entrance to a six car underground garage).  We identified the significance of polychromatic brickwork in the existing house, so we applied it as a plane (rather than secondary decoration).  The entry to the car-lift is clad in a quilted copper panel –reducing the material to an abstract surface, referencing patterning in the slate roof in a material closely associated with heritage fabric.  The effect is to de-emphasise what is essentially a garage door and instead present a composition of heritage “samples”.

The new pavilion at the rear of the house is deeply sequestered in the site – our strategy to provide the maximum opportunity for perceiving the heritage fabric in garden surrounds thus maintaining the ideal of the Victorian/Edwardian suburban garden villa.  The formal exposition of the new pavilion also aims to amplify an understanding of existing fabric.  The original monumental monitor roof in the kitchen – potentially originally a billiards room – has been appropriated and multiplied into four monitors – the juxtaposition making a commentary on the original.  The individual rooves are clad in slate and simplified in form to emphasise the abstraction of the original gesture.

Investigation of this quite frankly vast house will reveal a consistent approach to identifying and revealing heritage fabric through abstraction and transformation – changing scale, repeating, isolating, re-framing.  This is evident from the large formal elements identified here down to window fenestration and joinery detailing.


Traditional Land Owners: Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung People
Builder: Provan Built
Landscape: Nathan Burkett Design
Photography: Derek Swalwell

2021 Victorian Architecture Awards: Commendation – Heritage Architecture

Belle Australia – Sept 2021
The Local Project – ‘Bringing Clarity – Hawthorn House by Kennedy Nolan