Marsala House

Client
Christopher Beer and Mark Etherton

Status
Completed 2010

Size
385m2

Location
Dianella Heights, WA

We were engaged to lead the refurbishment and general upgrade of the Marsala House, completed in 1976 and one of the architectural icons from the remarkable oeuvre of Ivan Iwanoff. In addition to arresting and repairing the damaged caused by a long period of neglect, our scope also included the addition of outdoor entertainment areas and reconfiguring internal spaces to render them more suited to contemporary life.

Our approach was guided by respect for Iwanoff’s modernism cast in his idiosyncratic language. Avoiding overt exclamations, we elected to assimilate the new works by embedding them in the original design. We constantly posed the questions “What≈can we find in the original documentation and design that suggests how Iwanoff would solve the problem at hand? And what materials would he use in these new circumstances?”.

With the preparation of a Conservation Management Plan the project progressed in two stages. The initial efforts concentrated on rectification work to halt degradation and return the house to sound condition so that we could confidently proceed with new work and upgrade interior finishes.

Following the repair and restoration of the base fabric some stripping and remodelling was undertaken. A somewhat awkward conservatory and fibreglass spa, added by the owners in the 1980’s, was removed and replaced with sliding glass doors to interpret the open connection between front and rear gardens, Iwanoff’s original design intent. The main bathroom was expanded and windows added to improve views and introduce natural light and ventilation. A wall between two smaller bedrooms was removed to create a generous master bedroom and an entrance to the bathroom was added. The kitchen was completely upgraded. The narrow, low benches and old appliances were replaced with a contemporary design that retained the functions and aesthetic of the original kitchen. To maintain the original design character materials, fixtures and fittings were sourced from around the globe.

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