Architecture practice Timmins + Whyte has added a double-height gabled extension to a 19th-century house in Melbourne, illuminating its formerly light-starved living spaces.
Originally built in 1876, Lantern House formerly had a dark and poky interior that meant its owners – a young couple with two children and a dog – were longing for a home with an open-plan layout.
A low-ceilinged extension that had been added to the property in the 1980s was also proving redundant.
"Our clients wanted to live, cook, gather, lounge, read and socialise in one sunny, externally connected space," said Timmins + Whyte Architects, which was tasked with expanding the home.
After demolishing the existing extension, the practice created a contemporary double-height addition that's clad entirely in white steel beams.
It has a glass-fronted rectilinear base and a gabled upper volume wrapped with expansive windows that cast stripes of light into the interior. They can also be seen glowing from street level as night falls.
"The extension has been designed to play with light, it allows the space to bathe in it and controls it," explained the practice.
The luminous quality of the new extension is what lent the project its name of Lantern House.
It's also meant to be a subtle reference to Japanese tōrō's – traditional lanterns made from stone, wood or metal that would be used to illuminate the pathways of Buddhist temples.
"Our client's husband is Japanese and the garden landscape has stepping stones that create a path from the courtyard to the house, and back out to the rear yard and pool – so it seemed fitting," the practice's co-director, Sally Timmins, told Dezeen.