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Ben Edwards Loft Conversion

If you’ve been with us from our early episodes or have worked through our back catalogue, Melbourne based architect, Ben Edwards will be no stranger to you.

Photo credit: Felix Bardot

Ben and his distinctive Microluxe apartment (in particular his bathroom renovation) were the subject of our first ever NTS episode and since then he has continued to be a generous and enthusiastic collaborator across numerous NTS projects (one of which we hope to share with you soon). We are excited to invite you into Ben’s home to see how he has tackled a common conundrum: how to squeeze another bedroom and bathroom into an already compact and constrained floor plan.

Those familiar with Ben and his work will know this Brit loves a bathtub. He squeezed one into Microluxe’s 22sqm/236sqft footprint with dramatic effect and he snuck one in here too. Over to Ben to tell us about his loft renovation.

NTS: Who are you and what do you do? 
Ben: I’m Ben Edwards. I am an architect & co-director of Studio Edwards  

NTS: Where’s your home located?  
Ben: Fitzroy, Melbourne 

NTS: What’s unique about your home?  
Ben: It’s a narrow worker’s cottage, likely built in the 1920s. I bought it 12 years ago and renovated it some 10 years ago (see https://www.studio-edwards.com/dolls-house ) 

NTS: What are the dimensions?  
Ben: The original cottage at the front is 35m2 but the total area of the house is 85m2. The new bathroom pod sits within the existing living space in the front portion of the house. 

NTS: What was your motive for the renovation?  
Ben: To add a second bathroom space that could also provide a means to access a loft space for a second bedroom.  

NTS: Describe the design of the bathroom renovation for us…
Ben: The Bathroom pod is built from timber framing and clad in plasterboard with a raised cork floor to provide space for the necessary plumbing for a bath, shower, WC and washbasin. The wall facing the current living room has an operable window to allow TV viewing from the comfort of the bathtub and a reflective oversized sliding door provides access and a mirror. This minimises the interference to the circulation space between the living area and the front door. 

It’s about the exploration of space as a volume – existing in plan, section and elevation

Ben Edwards

The bathroom wall facing the street front is set-back by a metre & supports a new timber stairwell that wraps around and up to a loft roof space. The wall angles upwards so as to capture natural light through the north-facing existing sash windows whilst maintaining privacy. The copper piping for the shower acts as a handrail and the landing space has a built-in bookshelf for storage.  

NTS: What’s your philosophy when it comes to designing a small space? 
Ben: Where practical, to minimise separating walls and to maximise connectivity between spaces, both visually and functionally. It’s also about the exploration of space as a volume – existing in plan, section and elevation.

NTS: What are the advantages of adaptive reuse of heritage properties like yours in our inner-city suburbs? 
Ben: Building upon the fine grain of our cities. Adding density through an evolutionary and contextual response adds to the character and humanity of our built environment. 

image of plyboard
Ben used OSB (oriented strand board) offcuts for joinery. He sites it as an alternative to plywood that is more forgiving to work with.
angled all with privacy
The wall angles upwards so as to capture natural light through the north-facing existing sash windows whilst maintaining privacy.

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