Set inside the walls of an old confectionery factory, the inner-city home of Melbourne architect Stephen Jolson and his family is testament to the design ethos he applies to all his projects – to celebrate context, expressed by a simple palette of meticulously detailed materials, blurring the line between architecture, interior and landscape.
Designed 14 years ago, what has become evident upon reflection as the family’s needs have evolved, is that the design has stood the test of time. Unlike other warehouse residences, rather than convert the interior space, Jolson chose to pull out the entire inside of the building and build a new 2 storey home and garden on the existing first-floor slab of the factory.
In doing this, the existing 1950’s façade has been recycled as a freestanding wall that acts like a ‘mask’, concealing a hidden urban oasis within. “We wanted to live in a home that was private and secure and celebrated itself from the inside out. The existing 1950’s factory façade provided us with an opportunity on which to build upon,” says Stephen.
The home celebrates its context by using a limited palette of contemporary materials inspired by the existing factory. A sculptural, solid steel staircase acts as a ribbon that transitions the rugged polished concrete floors, exposed steel columns, bagged brickwork of the factory on the ground floor, up into the refined first and second-floor residence, which is meticulously detailed.
“The textural shift of the landscape plays a key role in layering the visual depth of our home. Our artwork and furniture juxtapose the simple blank canvas of our walls, collected over the last 15 years, each piece carefully selected to add to the story of our life.”
– Stephen Jolson
Believing that everything we do in life is based upon what has come before, Stephen has paid homage to the unique history of the building by adding an image of the Sugar Vats that once stood within these walls and used them to create ‘Hundreds & Thousands’. “I contacted the original owners of the factory who provided us with memorabilia. We were particularly drawn to this image, which at large scale fractured into black and white pixels, which add an extraordinary layer of texture to the interior space,” he says.
The walls of the home’s garden are planted with a combination of Boston Ivy, Virginia Creeper and Wisteria, that celebrate autumn colour seasonal change, revealing the red brick walls of the existing factory. The pool with its curved wall sits in the garden as a considered piece of sculpture, becoming the pool fence in itself, as an object which seemingly does not touch the adjoining facades.
“Nature is so important to our designs; as contributory to the interior or architecture in creating a sense of place. Our garden is our oasis and its design was carefully considered in all aspects of our home,” says Jolson. The softness created by the organic flow of the simple geometric shapes is layered and enhanced by an abundance of northern light. “The textural shift of the landscape plays a key role in layering the visual depth of our home. Our artwork and furniture juxtapose the simple blank canvas of our walls, collected over the last 15 years, each piece carefully selected to add to the story of our life.”