Tiara House / FMD Architects
Text description provided by the architects. Sculpted by the ornamental qualities of its site and locale, Tiara House is a spirited addition to a late 1800s Victorian terrace in Melbourne’s inner north. The double-storey, north-facing dwelling, which overlooks the historic parklands of Edinburgh Gardens, inspired FMD Architects to embrace a sentimental and sustainable approach in the new addition, offering a poetic response to a place grounded by amenity and liveability. The home’s ornamental frontage is contemporized with a neutral palette, enhancing its original iron lacework, corbels, and decorative plasterwork. Upon entry, a wide arched hallway, formal front room, and original timber stairs are sensitively preserved and saturated in shades of blue, creating a renewed sense of mood and occasion. A second bedroom is converted to a shared bathroom, awash with curved forms, inky blue tiling, speckled terrazzo, luminous granite, and reeded glass.
Beyond, the site’s existing 70s lean-to is replaced with a lofty, light-filled addition that embraces a warm material logic, combining fluted timber linings, white rendered brick, and bespoke concrete aggregate floors. The challenging southern orientation inspired FMD Architects to pursue connections to the landscape from every aspect, drawing in layered gradients of natural light. The laundry, tucked beside the new bathroom, opens onto an eastern lightwell, which brings light into the kitchen and living areas, while the rear garden notches into the west, enlivening the addition’s key circulation path with a framed landscape view.
The expression of a stone island bench, inset with a sweeping inlay of solid timber, is echoed in the curved profile of the rear sliding door — an organic aperture to the eclectic landscape beyond. Designed in collaboration with Jo Ferguson Gardens, the planting offers an ephemeral vista of native, cottage, and Mediterranean species, reflecting indigenous history, the site’s past, and the clients’ personal narratives. From the rear elevation, a floating veil of timber battens shrouds the upper level, its sweeping and tiered form referencing the detail of Edinburgh Gardens’ historic rotunda and the home’s decorative character. Highly visible to the neighboring laneway properties, this ‘tiara’ form offers a sense of embellishment to the otherwise blank Victorian rear façades typical of the era. Its ribbon-like form contributes to the layered roofscape, offering a new language of adornment for the residents and their neighbors to delight in.
Upstairs, the tiara screen encloses a landscaped deck accessed from the main bedroom and protected by a curved plate steel awning. A timber-lined planter ensures visual privacy to the adjacent properties while allowing views across rooftops and the city skyline beyond, thoughtfully framed by a scooped profile in the western wall. Internally, the main bedroom and robe embrace a gentle palette of soft blues and whites, while a new ensuite and bathroom are adorned with dramatic chartreuse and green-veined stone, imparting a decorative quality. The remaining bedrooms are thoughtfully restored, their original timber floors stripped back and lime-washed. A new mirrored panel playfully reflects the volume of the decorative timber stair, further binding the varied atmospheres of the home’s two storeys.