Scarborough and Welkin


  • Justin Mallia Architecture


Scarborough and Welkin is a small, multiple residential project with a reinterpreted functional brief enabling multiple modes of occupancy. The project innovatively builds upon an existing heritage house, creating a vastly varying arrangement of spaces that are a delight and surprise to encounter. Natural ventilation and filtered northern sunlight penetrate throughout the design which more than doubles the density of the site, creates flexible possibilities for inhabitation, while increasing garden areas and retaining significant trees. The careful consideration of scale, composition, colours and materials achieves a balance that is bold and innovative but engages respectfully and modestly with its surroundings.

Key Features


The project builds upon an existing heritage house with a previously sunny garden that had become overshadowed by a neighbouring house extension. The initial project brief from the client; to (reluctantly) replace the compromised garden with a conventional townhouse, was reimagined through sun-modelling to instead selectively nestle interconnected new building elements throughout the entire site. In detailed consideration of the nuances of the immediate surroundings, interior and exterior spaces were positioned back into the sun, trees from the original garden were retained, the natural topography sculpted and seamlessly woven into deep soil embankment roof gardens and bluestone paved terraces.


Essentially two houses, the functional brief was reinterpreted enabling multiple configurations of occupancy. Carefully crafted, hidden operable wall panels and a secret hinged bookshelf flexibly divide spaces creating a sense of identity, permanence and privacy in all configurations. A complex circulation network including a ramped arbour walkway, paths, stepping stones, stairs, sloping floors and garden embankments, naturally enable separate entry and movement throughout the building regardless of how it is occupied. Multiple half-levels, angled intersections and curved transitions in plan and section, result in unusual internal and external volumes of space that are braided together and integrally connected.


The creative nestling of building form into the entire site and the manipulation of ground lines more than doubles the number of occupants able to be accommodated on the site, while maintaining all existing significant trees and the same amounts of permeable garden space. As well as increasing density and amenity, the inventive flexibility of the designed spaces ensures efficient occupancy through the ability to customise inhabitable configurations and avoid unnecessarily underutilised rooms. This also contributes to the durability and life cycle adaptability of the building, readily allowing for future circumstances.


The project involves complex geometries of curved and angled intersections with basement retaining walls seamlessly transitioning above ground and then becoming fully integrated roof gardens. Customised doors, windows, screens and claddings are coordinated with mass construction, lightweight framing and exposed structure. Complex relationships are created between old and new, environmentally sustainable initiatives such as water tanks and solar panels are seamlessly incorporated with services concealed achieving a clarity of appearance with every surface of the building visible including the roofs. This highly complicated arrangement involved specialist collaboration from a full team of experts and required thorough integration of allied disciplines.


As well as being socially and passively environmentally sustainable, the design seamlessly incorporates electricity producing solar panels, battery storage, heat pump hot water, and filtered rainwater reuse. Carparking is accommodated with electric vehicle charging facilities in a multi-purpose space that is readily utilizable being daylit, accessible and integrally connected to other occupiable areas. At the urban scale, the angled facade of the new design innovatively engages with its heritage context at a junction of radial intersecting streets in Clifton Hill, The project creatively reinvents a flexible approach to modern housing, appropriately infilling a compromised gap in the historic urban fabric.

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