PHOOEY Architects have designed a contemporary addition to an existing double storey heritage house in Fitzroy North, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia.

The small portion of the existing house has been demolished and replaced with a new contemporary and sustainable three storey house (including basement). The front double storey Victorian section has been entirely retained and upgraded, many existing features, such as structural and flooring timbers, windows, doors, security grilles and the stair case were salvaged prior to demolition. The project applies the surrealist technique of “Cubomania” to catalogue, re-use and re-invent the demolished building materials. Embodied energy was minimised by balancing the quantity of demolished materials against the quantity of materials brought in to replace them. This technique is evident in the external brickwork and corresponding adjacent landscape. The existing house suffered from limited solar access, the new design includes a central light-well which delivers natural light and air to the new basement and all adjacent spaces via a window wall made of windows salvaged from demolished portions of the old house. The old stair which presented safety concerns has been removed. Some of its salvaged elements have been fashioned into a chandelier, and some into a loft bed to provide bedtime fun for the smaller occupants. The new spiral stair is the new heart of the house and is the mixing pot between the restored old front parts of the house and the new modern rear.

Cubo House is an energy and water efficient home with many sustainable features cleverly hidden away. The re-purposed old materials are presented so as not to disguise their original purpose and therefore provide an accessible display of adaptation and re-use.

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