Melbourne-based Inbetween Architecture has breathed new life into a dark and tired 1970s double brick home in Kew, Australia. Nicknamed the Upside-Down House, the gut-renovation includes a dramatically transformed interior with a focus on natural daylight and energy efficiency. In addition to increased daylighting with skylights and adherence to passive solar principles, the remodeled home was fitted with energy-saving LED lighting, hydronic heating, improved insulation and solar-powered ventilators.
When Inbetween Architecture was tapped for the project, the team debated between renovating and knocking the structure down to start anew. After weighing the environmental and cost benefits, however, the architects decided to retain the existing house, which was structurally sound but extremely dated and depressingly dark. As a result, they focused on bringing natural light into the home. Since the ground floor receives less access to daylight, the team decided to flip the ground floor and the first floor programming by placing the bedrooms on the ground floor and the communal living areas in the light-filled first floor — thus giving rise to the home’s nickname, the “Upside-Down House.”
“The favorite part of our renovations is without question the soaring cathedral-like skylights that not only brought light in, but created space above without impacting on the roofline,” said the client, a young family of four. “Visually, our house flowed from room to room with the feature stair-case leading directly to the open tallow-wood living areas lit up by the northern sun. This flow continued to the outdoors with the clever relocation of an outdoor balcony to link to the previously isolated pool-area allowing for an expansive out-door entertaining area second to none.”
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The architects replaced the home’s original seven “closet”-sized bedrooms with four spacious bedrooms. The interior design follows a minimalist aesthetic with hidden storage to avoid clutter. Created to meet a six-star energy rating, the home takes advantage of thermal mass from the existing concrete slabs on both floors and the externally insulated double brick walls. Long roof eaves and new dual shading help mitigate solar gain.
Images by Tatjana Plitt and Nick Stephenson