A Majestic 1880s South Yarra Home Gets A Masterful Update

Robson Rak were recently engaged to renovate ‘Batavia’ – one of South Yarra’s few remaining double-storey, Victorian Italianate houses. Despite the property being heritage protected and initially appearing to be in good condition, early demolition works uncovered myriad structural issues, calling for significant restorations.

The brief was to restore the original house, reconfigure the layout, and add an extension to suit a modern family of five. ‘We were entrusted to design their forever home that should be classical, contemporary, and timeless,’ says Kathryn Robson, director of Robson Rak Architects. The architects proposed a building borrowing the proportions of the older style, reinterpreted for the 21st century.

A key element of this project was introducing a new open-plan living, kitchen and dining domain to serve as the heart of the home. This space was envisioned as a light-filled area with a garden on all sides, anchored by a central fireplace. ‘We always saw the fireplace being a central part to the success of this home, with all spaces pivoting around it,’ says Kathryn.

A combination of formal and casual elements make this home as liveable as it is visually majestic. Among practical details cleverly integrated into the design is the comfortable banquette seating in the kitchen joinery (‘The perfect spot for someone to sit with a glass of wine while someone else cooks up a storm’ says Kathryn), and designated cupboards for children’s craft materials. ‘It’s a very sociable, versatile kitchen where everything occurs.’

The now completed home cleverly stitches together two distinct architectural eras, creating the most impressive iteration of this circa 1882 home yet!

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