Tiara House: A Spirited and Sustainable Addition to a Victorian Terrace

FMD Architects created a spirited addition to a late 1800s Victorian terrace in Melbourne‘s inner north with Tiara House. The double-story, north-facing dwelling was sculpted by the ornamental qualities of its site and locale, overlooking the historic parklands of Edinburgh Gardens. The architects embraced a sentimental and sustainable approach in the new addition, offering a poetic response to a place grounded by amenity and liveability.

The house’s decorative facade has been modernized using a neutral color scheme, which highlights its original iron lacework, corbels, and decorative plasterwork. As you step inside, you’ll be greeted by a spacious arched hallway, a formal front room, and a beautifully preserved timber staircase, all adorned in various shades of blue that evoke a refreshed atmosphere and a special ambiance. Additionally, one of the bedrooms has been transformed into a shared bathroom, featuring elegant curved designs, deep blue tiles, speckled terrazzo, radiant granite, and textured reeded glass.

Tiara House, Melbourne, AUS / FMD Architects

Beyond, the site’s existing 70s lean-to is replaced with a lofty, light-filled addition that embraces a warm material logic, combining fluted timber linings, white rendered brick, and bespoke concrete aggregate floors. The challenging southern orientation inspired FMD Architects to pursue connections to the landscape from every aspect, drawing in layered gradients of natural light. The laundry, tucked beside the new bathroom, opens onto an eastern lightwell which brings light into the kitchen and living areas, while the rear garden notches into the west, enlivening the addition’s key circulation path with a framed landscape view.

Tiara House, Melbourne, AUS / FMD Architects

The expression of a stone island bench, inset with a sweeping inlay of solid timber, is echoed in the curved profile of the rear sliding door — an organic aperture to the eclectic landscape beyond. Designed in collaboration with Jo Ferguson Gardens, the planting offers an ephemeral vista of native, cottage, and Mediterranean species, reflecting indigenous history, the site’s past, and the clients’ personal narratives.

Tiara House, Melbourne, AUS / FMD Architects

From the rear elevation, a floating veil of timber battens shrouds the upper level, its sweeping and tiered form referencing the detail of Edinburgh Gardens’ historic rotunda and the home’s decorative character. Highly visible to the neighboring laneway properties, this ‘tiara’ form offers a sense of embellishment to the otherwise blank Victorian rear façades typical of the era. Its ribbon-like form contributes to the layered roofscape, offering a new language of adornment for the residents and their neighbors to delight in.

Tiara House, Melbourne, AUS / FMD Architects

The landscaped deck, accessible from the main bedroom, is enclosed by a tiara screen on the upper floor. A curved plate steel awning provides protection while a timber-lined planter ensures privacy from neighboring properties. The western wall features a scooped profile that thoughtfully frames views of the city skyline and rooftops.

Tiara House, Melbourne, AUS / FMD Architects

Soft blues and whites create a calming atmosphere in the main bedroom and robe, while the new ensuite and bathroom showcase bold chartreuse and green-veined stone for a decorative flair. The remaining bedrooms have been thoughtfully restored, with their original timber floors stripped and lime-washed. A mirrored panel adds a playful touch, reflecting the decorative timber stair and unifying the home’s two stories.