Timmins + Whyte designs ‘folding’ roof extension | Bringing light in

Timmins + Whyte has updated a single-fronted Edwardian house in Melbourne, Australia, creating a 10-fold, origami-style roofline, which draws light into the centre of the home. 

Sitting unassumingly on its street in Abbotsford, an inner-city suburb of Melbourne, the house has a long, narrow floor plan and small footprint which the architects have opened up with a new two-storey extension to the rear.

Australian-based architect Sally Timmins and building designer David Whyte were called upon to bring a considered approach to the design, and have shown sensitivity to the neighbouring architectural history. 

In terms of bringing more light in and shaping a more convivial family space, it was important to move the bathroom and laundry from the rear to a more central location to allow the living space to open up to the back garden. The extension features a statement roof with 10 asymmetrical folds in it, playfully bringing in light and creating visual interest.

“The inspiration for the design was to use the roof planes to fold along the narrow site to address the street pattern and create volumes of space punctuated by light,” explains architect Sally Timmins. 

“The upper storey roof folds down to minimise visual bulk to the single-storey house to the east and rises up to soften the contrast of the large, two-storey neighbour to the west.”

Natural daylight floods into the new kitchen-dining space where corner banquette seating offers a comfortable place to relax

Inside, Timmins + Whyte chose a material and colour palette that is inspired by the native Australian bush. Tasmanian timber lines the underside of the butterfly roof bringing a warmth inside and the roof design serves to shape volumes of space that are each punctuated by light. 

“Tasmanian timber was chosen for its pinky and warm honey tones and because it is sustainably grown and sourced,” explains Sally Timmins. “It was important for us to use local materials and it’s something we try to do as much as possible.” 

The textural quality in the architecture is complemented by neutral and earthy colours of the interiors, which give a warm and playful feel. For example, a dark and luxurious natural stone is used on the island bench, adding a sleek finish to the ribbed wood cabinetry panelling. 

Black and grey terrazzo flooring adds further texture underfoot, and this look is softened by a peach-toned, upholstered banquette seating area and a mid-century-style oak table and chairs in the dining space. 

The angle of the roof changes the feel of each crafted space, with the biggest difference made in opening the kitchen up to the private back garden. Environmentally, 10 Fold House benefits from a northerly orientation whereby the main living, kitchen-dining area receives all-day solar access. 

The home has been configured to use passive cooling and ventilation to minimise the need for air conditioning, artificial light, and solar panels, and water tank is installed for outdoor irrigation.

“Throughout, the space creates its own sense of expansion and compression, from intimate dining to the towering ceiling suspended over a wall of handpicked art,” adds Sally Timmins. 

“The favourite space for us and design detail are the main bedroom with its views to the city and the folded ceiling internally and the expansive, open and light-filled kitchen-living space connected to the garden. We also designed a stained-glass that is intended to evoke the droopy gum tree with its myriad of greens, pinks, and yellow hues that are highlighted with the sun shining through it.” 

Project details:

Architecture and Interior Design: Timmins + Whyte

Location: Abbotsford in Melbourne, Australia

Builder: Encore Projects

Structural Engineer: Bliem R. & Associates

Joinery: Profile Office Furniture

Natural stone: Fior di Pesco by Adriatic Stone

Furniture: Tide Design (dining table and chairs); From District (upholstered green stool by Jeremey Evison and island bench stoll by Mattiazzi)

Artwork: Port Jackson Press Print Gallery (‘Two Boats’ by Margie Shepard); Great Frames (‘The Sirens’ by Nycki Rosakeas

Photography: Peter Bennetts

The roof expands and contracts the spaces, including in the main bedroom upstairs which has views across the city

Discover more meticulously crafted architectural projects by Timmins + Whyte.

Take a look at lots more residential case studies on enki, including the low-impact design and transformation of a warehouse in Brussels, turning it into a hybrid apartment and work space.


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