Heritage and modern reside side by side

15 Mar 2022

Humphrey Homes Peppermint Grove Architect Residence

Western Australia is packed with history-rich suburbs where heritage and modern living meet harmoniously.

Old pieces that may not mix with your modern vision can be repurposed to create a balance by blending the two styles.

Humphrey Homes Architect Helen Marchesani said getting that balance right was an important step in creating cohesiveness.

“To successfully blend the two, our philosophy is ‘inspiration not imitation’,” she said.

“We seek to respect the original architecture by deliberately keeping the addition discernibly different.

“Considered design will reference the old in the new, not replicate it through the application of form, materials and scale – in an architecturally honest building you can clearly see the age and development of the home.”

Whether you are a new homebuilder or a keen renovator, Ms Marchesani said the location of the home could determine how much heritage design you needed to keep.

“In areas with strong streetscape heritage, like parts of Claremont, Peppermint Grove and Mount Lawley, homeowners must preserve the street frontage,” she said.

“Many of the older areas have restrictions in place that value the streetscape and prioritise the need to preserve the frontages of the original housing stock.”

Recently utilising its philosophy to bring a heritage home into modern times, Humphrey Homes successfully updated the oldest house in Peppermint Grove, taking home the 2021 HIA-CSR Western Australian Housing Awards’ Renovation/Addition Project gong.

“First built in 1892, the home has the highest possible heritage listing by the local council,” Ms Marchesani said.

“As part of the council guidelines, we were required to design the addition to be ‘discernibly different’ from the existing home. Therefore, the home has a stark visual contrast from front to back in terms of form, materiality and scale.

“The library, with its newly restored original fireplace, acts as the transition room between the original home and the ultra-modern addition at the rear.

“The renovation pays homage to the history of the home by isolating the original elements and deliberately contrasting them with the new.

“The new elements were obviously selected so they wouldn’t be confused with the old, while still being respectful in their proportion, scale and materiality.”

According to Ms Marchesani, there is a growing education on respecting heritage while updating the home, with several compounding factors on why homeowners wish to take it on.

“For many, it is an environmental decision not to waste resources by bulldozing an existing home,” she said.

“For lovers of architecture and heritage, it is about preserving the magic of buildings that are irreplaceable.”

No matter the reason, Ms Marchesani said it was important to always create an affinity with the old and the new.

“We are not seeking to imitate the past but are fully committed to preserving the integrity of the original building,” she said.

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This story first appeared in The West Australian's New Homes liftout on March 12, 2022.