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  • Fitzroy Laneway House

    “This proposal uses a former laneway as a design driver to organise the spaces and heighten the experience within and around the original mid-late 19th century house.”

Title Type Location
Fitzroy Laneway House Residential Alterations + Additions Fitzroy, VIC

A professional couple with a young child

What they wanted
A home for themselves and their growing child that celebrated the qualities of the existing building and provided individual privacy and future flexibility.

An alteration and additions to a double storey Victorian terrace within a heritage precinct.

Site: 297m2 / Floor Area: 182m2 = 87m2 (existing) + 95m2 (additions)

Alterations + additions to a derelict semi attached double storey Victorian terrace to house a growing family.

This proposal uses a former laneway as a design driver to organise the spaces and heighten the experience within and around the original mid-late 19th century house.

As one of the myriad of privately created ad-hoc laneways throughout Fitzroy, this 2.5 metre wide strip of land runs from the front to the rear along the long southern boundary of this property.

The design sees the overall property divided into two zones: this former laneway strip, and the remainder of the property to the north. In memory of its original use, the new addition within the former laneway strip becomes the main circulation route through the property and houses the more utilitarian spaces. The grander spaces, where one is likely to spend more time are within the northern remainder of the property.

Any new building within the two zones is handled differently: Externally the addition within the laneway strip is deliberately diminutive; being black in colour and lower, thinner and lighter in mass than the higher, thicker, heavier white masonry structure of the original Victorian building within the remainder of the property.

The introduction of a curious and respectful contemporary addition strengthens the urban presence of the row of double storey Victorian terraces to the north and contributes to the evolving neighbourhood character of this inner Melbourne suburb.



Context Diagram

Ground Floor Plan

First Floor Plan


Formal Development

Key Themes:

Spatial Relationships

The project uses a defunct on-site laneway as a catalyst for arranging functions along the site, with the spaces in this strip serving the higher priority and grander spaces in the remainder of the property to the north.


Although largely a rear addition, this project also provided an opportunity to provide a visible contemporary contribution to the street in this ever evolving neighbourhood. The existing building was an altered semi-attached double storey Victorian and is the southernmost one of five attached terraces that comprise Charlemont Terrace. The new contemporary street addition reads as a kind of urban shadow line for Charlemont Terrace with the intention of amplifying its presence, particularly against the rapidly developing commercial zone to the near north.

Inner-Suburban Sanctuary

The interactions between the existing and contemporary components of the house were designed to encourage a more warm, verdant, playful and relaxed interior life than suggested by the relatively reserved urban presentation of the finished house.


There was a desire to provide adaptability to the changing and evolving needs of the inhabitants and to those of the context around this relatively tight inner suburban site. Through the creation of clear and logical spaces with relatively generous proportions and adaptable openings, and the use of moveable/demountable/adaptable furniture and other elements, this project allows for ongoing personalisation, operation and adaptability to changing circumstances.

Environmental Performance

All windows are double glazed with low e coating with new insulation throughout walls and roof. There is also solar generated power. There is also automated shading and deciduous planting to provide summer sun protection to the large new east glazing of the new addition.


Tom Ross


Clinton Naina – “Stolen Unknown” series