Unifying Eras in a Light-Filled Family Home

Splinter Society design a robust, contemporary residential addition in poetic juxtaposition to the heritage elegance of a family home in Melbourne’s leafy inner south-east.


Defined by an approach that mediates between heritage relevance and contemporary resilience, Colonnade House has emerged as a home with a proud duality.

A new rear extension has been realised through a design language that counterbalances the traditional Federation origins that define the home’s front section, with contemporary materials and refined aesthetics. Splinter Society carefully draw out similarities that can be found between old and new, highlighting the timelessness of the original while re-orienting key characteristics in an entirely modern way.

From the moment of entry, Colonnade House unfolds across eras to navigate from a traditional layout of contained bedrooms, bathrooms and a study at the front of the home through to a strikingly modern and open-plan expanse of living zones at the rear. The transition from old to new relies on candid response to the site, context and habitation. In creating a dialogue with the elegant heritage notes, the addition allows for an entirely modern adaptation of the home’s original characteristics. 

The old is adorned with decorative details, while the new contains a restrained modern decorative grain of refined steel, timber, render and tile detailing. The traditional layout contains closed-off rooms, while the extension uses architectural devices to create a free-flowing plan that maintains its spatial and programmatic definition. The old contains intersecting gabled rooflines, while the new mimics these with minimal geometric roof forms and lofty ceilings. The old features decorative timber windows, while newly created Metro Steel Windows steel framing abstracts their detail, linking old to new. Metro Steel Window’s innovative approach to elevating a traditional medium and exploring a more sustainable solution reveals itself through this successful linking of the period home and new extension.


In the same way that the fine profiles of black steel reflect and juxtapose the black timber accents, the contemporary areas, laid out in an L-shape, are free-flowing spaces in direct contradiction to the closed intimacy in the period part of the home.

A conversation between the existing and contemporary sections of Colonnade House occurs through sensitivity to both materiality and form. A new entry between the original section of the home and the addition gestures towards the black painted timberwork throughout the bedrooms, bathrooms and office in the front section of the home before plunging inhabitants into the new. From there, Splinter Society has employed a literal unfolding of architecture as the new addition is navigated, a colonnade style from which the home takes its name.

In the same way that the fine profiles of black steel reflect and juxtapose the black timber accents, the contemporary areas, laid out in an L-shape, are free-flowing spaces in direct contradiction to the closed intimacy in the period part of the home. Constructed primarily from concrete and largely devoid of colour, the living and kitchen spaces are austerely timeless, filled with natural light which flows through expanses of bespoke steel framed glazing, and work to emphasise the Federation elements through contrast, respectfully giving the two disparate aesthetics space to exist as separate but complementary elements.

The colonnade draws navigation through to the rear garden while filtering and screening light between interior and exterior. A collection of intimate, sunny, garden-connected window daybeds and pedestals to house sculptures sit between the columns, which in turn support a simple black gable formed roof. 

The control of both natural and artificial light is integral to the home’s ambience while supporting the owner’s artistic vocation. The colonnade form also works to frame views of the surrounding garden while directing the fall of light across a tactile curation of surfaces which unite a diverse rotation of artworks in the home.

A palette of hand brushed timbers, plasters, concrete, and ceramic tiles provides a muted backdrop further elevated by dark mirrors, metal sheeting, and decorative steelwork to enhance and reflect these surfaces. Every design facet of Colonnade House works in concert to create an overarching sense of unity and intent.

Splinter Society has drawn on the timeless aesthetics and enduring structural integrity of concrete and steel throughout the home. The home assumes a new identity through the use of classic profile steel-framed doors and windows that support the striking expanses of glazing, the architectural purity of concrete and the geometric precision of the colonnade. The outcome is a light-drenched family home that considers heritage and contemporary dialogues in a way that allows both to exist independently but in seamless accord. 

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