Architecture + Design

Hope by vittinoAshe

We had the pleasure of chatting with Katherine Ashe and Marco Vittino of award winning architectural studio vittinoAshe about their Hope project; the stunning extension and renovation of an original 1900’s workers cottage in the popular Hope Street and Orange Avenue dogleg. We talk inspiration, challenges, triumphs and what makes this project so special.

Hope by vittinoAshe
Katherine Ashe and Marco Vittino, of vittinoAshe

1. What was the project brief?

The brief was fairly simple, the owners didn’t need much more space but wanted to improve the functionality of the house, the planning and the quality of the spaces. They wanted a strong connection with the outside. Belinda asked for a great kitchen and Mark had to have an outdoor shower.

2. What was the inspiration behind the design direction? 

The existing conditions and context are always an important starting point for us. This is a unique inner city heritage streetscape with a series of terraced workers cottages. The level change from the front of the house to the back boundary and the sequential nature of the rooms off the hallway were continued in the new additions. The ideas of creating a private and contained external room within the urban context, of stretching the house to both side boundaries and getting light deep into the plan from rooflights, of enabling long views that give a sense of extended scale…. all these notions helped establish a direction for the design.

3. Were there any constraints to the project? 

There are always constraints but generally speaking these result in the need to be innovative and clever with design. The narrow lot was one such constraint and deciding to push out to both boundaries obviously implied the inability to have windows on the sides, which then resulted in the roof design for the kitchen to become a natural lantern. This top lighting illuminates and makes special the everyday acts of cooking and bathing.

4. Are there any particular design features you’d like to bring our attention to?

The timber sprung floors that define the work area of the kitchen were introduced to allow our client to spend her weekends cooking in comfort and the skylight above the internal shower makes this space as connected to the external world as possible during the few rare Perth winter months when it is too chilly to shower outdoors.

5. What do you love about the project? 

The process, the strong relationship formed with our clients over time and of course, the design outcome. We have also been fortunate enough to experience the project over the last decade which doesn’t often happen. Mark & Belinda have become close friends and when they have been away we have been given the keys…

6. Are there any particular materials, usage of colour or products that are notable? 

The recycled rammed concrete and limestone, the black fireplace surround that was painted in automotive exhaust paint, the hand made steel handles and cover plate concealing the electrician’s ‘wall chase’ – these are all elements that have special visual and tactile qualities that off-the-shelf solutions often don’t embody. The plywood speaks to the apple crate landscapes of our client’s New Zealand heritage and the outdoor copper shower made with a modified garden hose outlet responds to the casual nature of returning salty from the beach on the weekends.

7. What makes this project special?

Our clients’ trust and support throughout the process. Their confidence in allowing us to experiment with ideas, materials and finishes. The textural qualities of the limestone and travertine floors that make a unified but distinctive ground plane. The differing volumes that punctuate spaces to define and hold the activities carried out within. The translucency and luminosity that wraps these volumes and brings filtered light in from outside. The distinctive transformation of the spaces from day to night and from summer to winter. The beautiful old vine that binds the house and studio. And the fact that it is a modest house in a heritage context.

Hope by vittinoAshe was recently marketed and sold by ZSA ZSA Property.

A big thank you to Katherine and Marco from vittinoAshe and Cult Design.