When a well-traveled couple tapped Australian design practice Nic Owen Architects to renovate and expand their modest 1940s home in Hampton, the architecture firm channeled the clients’ love of adventure into a design that boasts elements of mystery and surprise. Connecting the original clicker brick structure to a new extension is a dark tunnel that’s curved to obscure views of either end and to create what the architects call a “surprising adventure,” giving rise to the project’s name, the Journey House.

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black timber-clad curving tunnel

The project brief called for greater living spaces, updated amenities and a strong connection with the outdoors to complement a more tranquil and relaxing home environment. To respect the neighborhood’s character, the architects preserved the existing building and tucked the contemporary extension into the rear away from view of the street.

open-plan living room and kitchen with white walls and cabinets, wood floors and a gray couch

Obscuring the extension creates a “voyage of discovery” for visitors who enter the mid-century home and then travel through the black timber-clad, curved tunnel that opens up to the surprisingly bright and airy destination: the new timber-framed extension housing the open-plan living spaces. Large, double-glazed windows and sliding doors provide the close connection to nature that the homeowners wanted.

open-plan living room and kitchen with white walls and cabinets, wood floors, a gray couch and several large windows

“Filled with natural light, vaulted ceilings and the abundance of space, this new extension adds modern life to a tired mid-century classic,” the architects said in a project statement. “The project was a great opportunity to explore the idea of journey, the path one takes exploring the environment, to create an enticing, stimulating, workable space. I enjoyed challenging the perception of a typical family renovation/extension.”

Related: A modular extension boasts a seamless indoor-outdoor living experience

white bedroom with black headboard, gray and blue bedding and a white desk

Updated to 166 square meters, the renovated and expanded house also boasts improved energy efficiency. In addition to the double-pane glass windows and doors oriented to the north to capitalize on solar gain, the architects installed custom CFC solar shades and used recycled materials and LED lighting throughout.

+ Nic Owen Architects

Photography by Christine Francis via Nic Owen Architects

black timber extension of a brick mid-century home