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Pavilion House

Pavilion House designed by Robson Rak balances two distinct architectural styles to create a cohesive build through material consistency and abundant links to the landscape.


Architecture: Robson Rak

Landscape Design: Mud Office

Photography: Shannon McGrath

Architecture & Interiors

Robson Rak

The award-winning firm of Robson Rak offers a holistic design service of architecture, interior design and interior decoration. Their project portfolio shares a common emphasis on innovative design, longevity, sustainability and client value. Each Robson Rak project is unique and influenced by the site as the design team strive to challenge the architectural process to find new solutions and ways to live.

Landscape Designer

Mud Office

Mud Office is a landscape design firm that endeavours to foster a creative and collaborative approach to every project as they achieve the client’s brief. Their landscapes respond to the given aspect, micro-climate and sustainability, while tailoring the design to suit the budget and context. Mud Office projects span Melbourne, Sydney and Perth.

When Melbourne architecture and interior design practice Robson Rak were engaged to restore and extend an 1880’s Victorian home they knew they had a challenge on their hands.

The brief called for modernisation of the original interiors to improve functionality, while extending the footprint with a substantial addition to accommodate future growth, explains interior architect Chris Rak. On top of the need for added square footage, the client sought to blend together the distinct Victorian architecture with a mid-century modernist aesthetic they’d come to love after spending time in Los Angeles.

“Initially the brief was challenging,” says Chris. “But it all fell into place with our use of linking landscapes via internal courtyards and the strategic use of certain materials.”

Victorian meets Mid-century Modern

The Story Behind The Design

The design consists of two volumes: the original Victorian building and a contemporary glass pavilion housing an open-plan living, dining and kitchen area that accommodates modern-day family living. To create flow and consistency rather than highlight an obvious separation between the two forms, Robson Rak used an internal glazed courtyard blending the eras.

Rather than mimic or recreate the design details of the Victorian era, there was a deliberate decision to complement and enhance the quality of the original building throughout the project.

To maintain the home’s integrity, many of the heritage features were restored including the ornate arches and mouldings. Hints of the building’s history were carried into the extension through details such as the herringbone tiles and rose gold bathroom fittings.

Further harnessing inspiration from the original architecture, the internal and external walls and flooring of the new volume were clad with Arbon Limestone in an Ashlar pattern while the existing dwelling was finished in traditional sand and cement render. “This reflects the same materiality, attention to detail and craftsmanship of the classic building”, says Chris of the limestone finish.

We were very conscious of being as authentic as we possibly could.

Chris Rak
Pavilion House by Robson Rak
Pavilion House by Robson Rak

An aesthetic of authenticity

Take A Closer Look

Encouraging a connection with the architecture and the property’s substantial gardens was also a considered response to tie the two eras together and reflected the client’s value of the outdoors.

“We tried to connect to the landscape as much as we could through the use of internal courtyards and cross flow ventilation,” says Chris. Each room in this orientated towards garden views created by the landscape design firm Mud Office.

“The focus of the garden was on beautiful planting and graceful composition”, says landscape architect Mira Martinazzao. The result was a garden that honoured the Victorian heritage façade and provided varied spaces that would evolve over time.

Fittings & Fixtures


'Husk' by Patricia Urquiola

Path Light

'Linear' by Gardens At Night

'Untitled' Sculpture

Caleb Shea - Thin electric blue line


Ligne Roset 'Grillage'

Outdoor Shower

Robert Plumb 'Murray Rose Shower'

Coffee Table

'Isola' by Linteloo

Signature Element

The material selection of Pavilion House not only defines the old and the new, it also forms a connection between the two eras. Chris explains the traditional sand and cement render on the old dwelling combined with the textural limestone-clad walls in an unordered pattern on the new building adds a sense of authenticity to the project. “How much more organic can you get than that?”

In the front, a classic, ornamental landscape borders the sweeping circular driveway entrance and cobblestone surfaces. While in the rear, the outdoor spaces embraced rectilinear lines that reflect the clean architecture of the pavilion extension, explains Mira.

“The large scale of the garden enabled us to incorporate many spaces and I envision the garden will be a setting in which childhood memories are formed”. Keeping a row of existing Ficus along the rear boundary and transplanting an established Canary Island Palm provided the garden with a sense of maturity from the outset and enhanced the interior views from the pavilion.

The focus of the garden was on beautiful planting and graceful composition.

Mira Martinazzao

Retaining its single-story form has allowed the contemporary pavilion addition to nestle within the substantial garden site without disrupting the heritage view from the streetscape. This project is all about connection. A connection between the old and new architectural styles and between the built form and the landscape.

The confident collaboration between the practices of Robson Rak and Mud Office as well as the considered material choices have created an authentic and cohesive home for a modern lifestyle. Pavilion House is an exemplar of a contemporary architectural extension that respects and is informed by the property’s past to create a greater sense of continuity.

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