Kiah House | Austin Maynard Architects

| 10 : 30 – 15 February 2018 |



The Kiah House designed by Austin Maynard Architects is a thoughtful extension of a Victorian era abode which spells peace and tranquility everywhere.

Located in a small enclave of North Fitzroy in Melbourne, the Kiah house has two street frontages. Award winning architectural practice Austin Maynard Architects based in Australia added a master bedroom and a home office for the owners among other extension works. The brief was to create a light and airy home emanating positive vibes, wherein the couple could entertain friends, family as well as meditate with peace.


From the Architects –

Project summary

Kiah House is an addition to a weatherboard cottage in North Fitzroy, Melbourne. The extension comprises two separate pieces of architecture, the master bedroom ‘haven’ – which sits beside the original house extending to the northern boundary, and the separate office poised above. The original Victorian-era house, built in 1927, has been respectfully restored and updated with a new kitchen and bathroom. The owners, Angela and Rahul had a clear idea of what a home meant to them – “a sanctuary”. They wanted light, airy house, with “strong and positive vibe”, to entertain friends, family and also to relax and meditate.  

[bctt tweet=”Influenced by Japanese gardens and Buddhist retreats of Kyoto, the design responds to client’s desire for peace and mindfulness.” username=”adesignw”]


The bathroom at Kiah takes you to a different place. The sunken brick bath, big enough for two, has an earthy character similar to the ancient OnsenThe master bedroom has a dedicated Buddhist prayer space. It opens up to the garden and ponds via sliding double-glazed glass panels, blurring the lines between inside and outside. An old towering lemon-scented gum tree is embraced and encircled, both physically and metaphorically.



Sketch – Proposed spaces

Street view –

[bctt tweet=”Kiah challenges the suburban binary of the ‘front yard’ and the ‘backyard’.” username=”adesignw”]

The small enclave of North Fitzroy with unusual road lay-out has led to some houses having two street frontages at either end of the block.

Aerial view – © Rahul Prasad

At the rear of Kiah, high fences and ugly garage doors dominate the neighbours houses. While across the road, on the northern side, old weatherboard homes form a traditional street front.

Shading and privacy details

We found the defensiveness of the rear elevations to be odd. We decided that the backyard should be a second front yard. Kiah engages with the northern street and the northern neighbours. The new deck is elevated enabling views and interaction with the street. The bedroom retreat faces directly the street, with operable louvres allowing Rahul and Angela to connect as much, or as little, as they wish. Bamboo fence allows view and light between the garden and the street. A pedestrian gate creates new ‘front door’ to northern street where previously high and defensive fence turned its back.


Master bedroom –

The master bedroom ‘haven’ has a dedicated Buddhist prayer space and opens up to the garden and ponds via sliding double-glazed glass panels blurring the lines between inside and outside. The towering lemon scented gum tree is enclosed by a small deck area, a place for the owners to “sit and meditate”.


The roof of the retreat is turf, covered in plants and edible vegetation (Disphyma Crassifolium) to provide an abundance of insulation as well as creating a buffer in the event of falling gum tree limbs. Accessed via a modest ladder, the green expanse also means the study is not overlooking a dull roof, instead Rahul looks out on a thriving roof garden.

Office space –

[bctt tweet=”Rather than opt for a study nook or a converted shed in the back garden, he asked for a dedicated place to work in each day.” username=”adesignw”]

Elevated above the original house and accessed via a spiral staircase, Rahul’s office provides a very different spacial experience to the rest of the house.


The office sits above the deck, up in the canopy of the gum tree, with elevated views of the dense green roof of the master retreat and beyond. The office is long and narrow, lined in timber, with perforated steel shelving. Like all of the newly built spaces, Rahul’s office looks out onto the garden, yet this space is elevated and feels separated and private.

[bctt tweet=”A different space for a different household function.” username=”adesignw”]


The mural on the side and underneath of the timber lined office is called ‘Awakened Flow’ by Seb Humphreys (aka Order 55).

The mural seeks to bring forth the innate power within nature. By using the soft palette of the underlying woodgrain, the wood is reimagined as a container of hidden information that is emancipated from its dormant locale within the structure. Once released this energy transforms; expanding as it morphs into lighter fluid aqua shades and then is released back into its original confines. To me this draws many analogies to the story of the house, the birth of a new space, The home taking a breath and expanding its rib cage as it fills itself with a renewed sense of being.”

 – Seb Humphrey’s Order 55

Mural – Seb Humphrey

Kitchen –

The large island bench is the focus of the kitchen at Kiah. Angela is a passionate cook who loves spending her free time creating modern gastronomic dishes.



She wanted a high functioning kitchen with double ovens, zip taps, sous vide and custom designed storage space that could be cosy and intimate from day-to-day, yet could also open up for entertaining large gatherings.


Importantly, this is not a typical island bench, this is a sculptural highly crafted piece of furniture. Half timber bench top, half stainless steel, it is both homely and commercial. The back of the bench top flips up to give extra practical kitchen surface when needed.

The bathroom – ‘ONSEN’


The bathroom at Kiah takes you to a different place. The sunken brick bath, big enough for two, has an earthy character similar to the ancient Onsen. A strong connection to a small private garden, created in the gap between the new addition and the old house, offers a relaxed feeling of bathing within the landscape. The bathroom leads up to the kitchen via a secret passage, concealed behind cabinetry.



Kiah house, Austin Maynard Architects, Melbourne, Sunken bath, Brick bathtub


Sustainability – 

Once a cold uninsulated weatherboard cottage, the house is now a high performing sustainable home. Timber used throughout the kitchen is over 100 years old, salvaged, recycled from CSR sugar mills in nearby Yarraville. Red clay bricks in the bathroom were salvaged, recycled from demolition sites around Victoria. They were then cleaned by hand without the use of chemicals or machinery.

Kiah house, Austin Maynard Architects, Melbourne, Residence


Although the site is small we have maximised natural light and air to all spaces. The openings and windows are designed to optimise passive solar gain, further reducing demands on mechanical heating and cooling. All windows are double glazed.

Kiah house, Austin Maynard Architects, Melbourne, Sketch, Circulation concept

Circulation spaces

The green roof provides additional insulation, helping to maintain a constant temperature in the bedroom retreat. A large water tank captures roof water and is reused to flush toilets and water the garden. High performance insulation is everywhere, even in the walls of the original house. Where possible we have sourced local trades, materials and fittings. Solar panels with micro-inverters cover the new roof.

Kiah house, Austin Maynard Architects, Melbourne, Aerial view, Residence

Photo – © Rahul Prasad

Project details –

Project Name – Kiah House

Location – North Fitzroy, Melbourne, Australia

Architect Firm – Austin Maynard Architects

Lead Architect – Andrew Maynard, Mark Austin

Design Team – Andrew Maynard, Mark Austin, Natalie Miles, Ray Dinh

Project type – Residential design

Client Name – Angela and Rahul Prasad

Photography Credits – © Tess Kelly , © Rahul Prasad

Sketches – © Austin Maynard Architects

Completion Year – 2017

Built Up Area – 163 sq. mt. ( Existing – 95 sq. mt. , Addition – 68 sq. mt. )

Builder  – CBD Contracting

Civil and Structural EngineerR Bliem & Associates Pty. Ltd.

Landscape design – Damon Fuhrer Landscapes

Green roof – Fytogreen

Interior work details –

Interior stylist – Amanda Grillini

Cabinetry – Grange Joinery

Mural – Seb Humphreys – Order 55

Artwork – Varuni Kanagasundaram


Leave a Reply