‘Highbury Grove’ is the Prahran home of Gilad Ritz along with his wife and two children, and designed by his own architecture practice, Ritz&Ghougassian.
Looking at the heritage facade, there are few clues as to what lies inside. Beyond the original two front bedrooms and entry corridor is what Ritz&Ghougassian co-director Jean-Paul Ghougassian describes as an ‘expression of volume and light, contrasting concrete block work and spotted gum timber.’
The inspiration behind this sleek extension was Japanese architect Arata Isozaki’s essay ‘MA, Space/Time in Japan.’ ‘Isozaki talks about time being a series of moments rather than a continuum, as expressed in the western tradition,’ says Jean-Paul. ‘We sought to express the home as a series of spatial rooms… Walls loosely defining space, allowing the outside world in through a number of apertures and breakout spaces.’
The largest of these breakout spaces is a leafy courtyard lying directly off the living room, with the main bedroom facing opposite. Not only does this courtyard provide light, nature and create a sense of depth between these spaces, it allows these rooms to look directly into one another.
Unfortunately, much of the original rooms of the house were not in good condition, so spotted gum floors were reinstated throughout, and new hearths built. The original ceiling and walls in the old house, however, were retained. ‘There is something nice about the original building fabric being misaligned and dimpled,’ says Jean-Paul.
The clever spatial planning of Highbury Grove achieves the project’s primary goal: to capture natural light from the adjacent northern laneway, while still maintaining privacy to the interior.
This house was the first project Ritz&Ghougassian worked on both the interiors and architecture, setting the bar high for this young practice’s future!