Home Tour | Stable & Cart House by Clare Cousins Architects

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    Clare Cousins Architects carry on the 100-year-old legacy of a brick warehouse in North Melbourne by transforming it into a retired couple’s new home.

    Since it was built in the early 1920s, Stable & Cart House has played a multitude of roles; first, it was a stable and cart store, then, an ironworks, a salvage warehouse, a dressmaking atelier and now, for the first time in its life, a private home. Melbourne-based firm Clare Cousins Architects have written the next chapter, whose practice is steeped in the richness of contemporary Australian architecture and its impact on the environment and society more broadly. 

    “Great architecture should be more than the building itself – I’m interested in how buildings can have a positive impact on the greater community,” Clare Cousin attests. Stable & Cart House, and all its former faces, have been embedded in the North Melbourne community for longer than we have been alive. Buildings like this are a perfect example of how preserving the past ultimately paves the way for the future.

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    The light-filled dining space features the Featherston Scape dining chair and HAY Rice Paper shade.

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    The kitchen features Brodware tapware and a Gaggenau oven.

    The Brief: Celebrating the Past

    “Our client was keen to engage with and preserve the rich history of the building and its varying uses,” Clare says, “All of which have left an indelible mark.” The double-height perimeter was integral to the building’s industrial character and sense of being (in the client’s words) – an “urban refuge” which was to remain untouched. 

    However, the amount of natural light permitted by the brick walls was limited, to which Clare Cousins responded by removing a portion of the roof and adding a central courtyard. Aside from this, the building’s industrial patina, aged timber, and rusted corrugated roofing were features to be celebrated, not fixed. In contrast, new features (the iron bookcase, for example) only add to this lineage of materials.

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    The central courtyard allows natural light and ventilation to permeate the interiors.

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    An iron bookcase is reminiscent of the building’s ironworks days.

    The Central Courtyard

    The organisation of spaces occurs around a central courtyard, defined by double-height steel-framed windows, abundant natural light and a solitary tree. “The design offers a sense of escape, privacy and calm around the courtyard, which is a token of the natural world,” the client says. It is something new, fashioned still inside something very old.

    Spotlight: The Staircase

    The staircase invalidates the assumption that ‘outdated’ equals ‘unsalvageable’. Before it was the rust-hued, sculptural hero of the home, the staircase only served a practical purpose. Clare says it goes beyond just that utility to playfully engage with and broaden the scope of the interiors.

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    The new design engages thoughtfully with the idiosyncrasies and imperfections of the 1920s brick building, such as the eroding brick walls. This space features the grazia & co Ivy coffee table and Harvey armchair.

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