Maitland House by Kennedy Nolan


The Maitland House is a distinctive residential project in Melbourne, Australia by the Australian architects, Kennedy Nolan. Over the last couple of years, the architecture firm has slowly built itself up a portfolio of single residential projects with a unique character that has made it readily synonymous with Kennedy Nolan. Similar to Kennedy Nolan’s other recent projects, the Maitland House is an addition that connects with an existing house, leaving the original structure almost completely untouched. This new addition occupies the former backyard of house with a completely redefined circulation system that connects to a small opening at the back of the post-war brick veneer house. The new roof structure slips underneath the eave of the original house structure, with the addition of courtyard spaces flanked on either side, to allow air flow and to separate between the new and old structures.


The Maitland House is a exploration of the courtyard typology. The new extension is arranged around a centralised courtyard that is orientated to capture the northern light. The courtyard plan forms indoor and outdoor spaces that bleed onto one another. The design of the Maitland House carefully integrates openings; where there are large brick volumes supporting the roof structure, the glazed openings naturally find their place by spanning across the spaces in between. This exaggerates the sense of openness in project, and strengthens the connection between the indoor and outdoor spaces of the courtyard plan.


The Maitland House is a bold residential project with a monumental geometry and a muted palettes of colours and materials


Louis Kahn’s approach to served and servant spaces was adopted in the planning of the Maitland House. Here, the servant spaces including the laundry, storage and kids’ bathrooms, are tucked away from the primary progression through the house. The editing of views within the Maitland House serves as one of the guiding principles for the planning of the house. For example, the barbecue in the outdoor dining area is hidden behind a low brick wall, rather than exposed to the entry hall and kitchen. The treatment of the view lines in the plans of the Maitland House has resulted in its carefully composed experience of space.


Aside from the plan, the aesthetic approach of the Maitland House is very characteristic of Kenny Nolan’s work. The subtle undertones of mid-century influence, the use of materials and monumental form are highly reminiscent of their past residential works. A lightly textured and painted white brickwork has been adopted for its aesthetic qualities and durability. Avoiding the use of plasterboard wherever possible, brickwork has been used for the walls and interior elements. The remaining palette of materials: oak, cork, marble and travertine, are more specific to this project, but nevertheless remain consistent with the Kennedy Nolan’s tendency towards incorporating neutral tones within their work.


The handling of geometry within the design of the Maitland House is a trait which makes this residence unique. The roof line of the Maitland house is elegantly and carefully articulated by the outdoor fireplace chimney. This bravely extends above the building mass, terminating in an inverted triangle at its peak. The wide bird’s beak shaped fascia gently captures the depth of the roof form. This removes any potential awkwardness of the weighty roof structure, and results in rear elevation that becomes a dramatic assembly of horizontal and vertical sections.