Melbourne house, with cloister

By Penny Craswell

While the word “cloister” evokes images of monks roaming crumbling monasteries, in fact the term merely refers to a covered walkway, usually with garden connections. Melbourne-based practice MRTN Architects has used the architectural device in a new alteration of a Victorian-era single-fronted terrace house in Carlton.

Carlton Cloister House by MRTN Architects. Photo:
Connecting old and new at Carlton Cloister House by MRTN Architects. Photo: Shannon McGrath

The addition to the house is placed at the back of the site, with the cloister connecting the two buildings. This layout has a number of benefits, offering an internal link between the two buildings while retaining valuable garden space. By orienting the cloister at the south of the site, the property also gains access to northern sunlight. Read more

Tiny Sydney terrace, opened out

By Penny Craswell

A four-metre-wide terrace in Sydney’s Surry Hills has been transformed from a dark, cramped space into a light-filled home with clean lines and balanced proportions thanks to architecture practice Benn & Penna.

Sydney Terrace by Benn & Penna. Photo: Tom Ferguson
Sydney Terrace by Benn & Penna. Photo: Tom Ferguson

The new bedrooms and bathrooms are located above an open-plan living space that opens onto intimate garden spaces at either end of the property. In order to increase the liveable space in the house, these have been treated as outdoor rooms. Read more

Sydney house, with Hawaiian verandah

By Penny Craswell

A Hawaiian-style verandah that opens completely to the outdoors has transformed an introverted Federation Queen Anne era 1900s house in Sydney’s North Shore, with design by Luigi Rosselli Architects. The architecture team were inspired by the Hawaiian ‘lanai’ verandah which is usually furnished – more like an open-sided living room that the traditional verandah.

Custom shutters, design by Luigi Rosselli Architects. Photo: Justin Alexander
Custom shutters, design by Luigi Rosselli Architects. Photo: Justin Alexander


In order to create a true ‘lanai’ verandah, the architects designed custom shutters that are tall and able to slide, as well as being supported column-free over the long span of the verandah, with options for various levels of shading according to the sun, wind and other environmental factors. Read more

Perth house, with sculptural brick extension

By Penny Craswell

In the Perth suburb of Mt Lawley, a sculptural form pops out above the houses, an irregular tower made of red clay shingles that seems to wrap in on itself in an unusual architectural shape that is also strangely familiar. This is the Camino House, a Perth house extension designed by Bosske and inspired by the shape of a kiln or oast (a traditional building where hops is dried as part of the brewing process).

View from the street, Camino House, designed by Bosske. Photo: Peter Bennetts
View from the street, Camino House, designed by Bosske. Photo: Peter Bennetts


“We initially envisaged the extension as a distinct object, as different to the existing house,” explains Caroline Hickey of Bosske. “It could be something which might ‘sit’ behind it, lean against it, looming above it from the street view, creating a casual relationship between these two elements.” Read more

Melbourne house, with vestibule

A vestibule, like a portico or a gazebo, is one of those architectural words that evoke a sense of romanticism. In the case of a vestibule, a small entry hall that connects the front door to the main interior, the term has an added exotic flavour for Australians, simply because our architecture does not often include one.

Interior, exterior. Photography: Shannon McGrath
Interior, exterior. Photography: Shannon McGrath

This is primarily for practical reasons. In Scandinavia or other cold climates, a vestibule is a space for you to shed and store your snow clothes which are not needed inside. In the UK, the same applies but usually for raincoats and muddy wellingtons or gumboots. In Australia, we often need a verandah, where we can shelter in the shade with the benefit of a cool breeze, but we do not normally need a vestibule. Read more