Consummating in an artfully executed family home\u2014complete with a self-contained studio, private gym and accommodations for two to work comfortably, q time, from home\u2014the restoration of Glebe House by Tribe Studio is characterised by unconventional design manoeuvres and a modern, respectively tongue-in-cheek take on Victorian artifice. \r\n\r\n\u201cI\u2019ve known the client since school,\u201d says architect Hannah Tribe, giving context to the origins of the renovation project. \u201cWe hadn\u2019t really stayed in touch,\u201d she explains. While she had embarked on a career in architecture and, in 2003, established herself as the principal of her own practice Tribe Studio, based in Sydney\u2019s Surry Hills; the client had gone galavanting around the world, spending the decades passed as an expat living and working in Germany and Singapore.\r\n\r\nThat all changed when, during the making of their homecoming plans, the client\u2014who\u2019d, since their school days, evolved into a family of four\u2014came across Tribe Studio while searching for an architect to design the place that they would call home, in Sydney.\r\n\r\n\u201cOur clients wanted to create a family home, where life orbits around the kitchen,\u201d as Tribe recalls, \u201cbut also to create dual WFH spaces, for him and her, at opposite ends of the house, and a self-contained flat, also within the footprint of the house, that can accommodate friends and family for extended stays from overseas.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe clients\u2019 WFH requirements weren\u2019t exactly run-of-the-mill either. With the couple comprising one part professional and one part personal trainer, their brief included gym amenities as well as a home office. There was also the added consideration that both spaces needed to be client-facing in function. \r\n\r\nWith both clients working from home, the design successfully creates separate working areas for each. One works from a dedicated office in the front room with substantial bespoke, pivoting study desk attached to the custom light pole. \u201cThe desk moves so that he can have meetings across the desk, create a blank backdrop for video conferencing, or sit in the window seat with the sun on his back like a cat,\u201d says Hannah.\r\n\r\nFrom the gym, at the rear of the site, the clients\u2019 other half operates a private training business. The gym has separate access from the lane, and screened windows onto the back lane energise this formerly utilitarian public space. \u201cWhile the gym is small in plan, it has soaring ceilings and large windows look onto small, curated gardens,\u201d says Tribe.\r\n\r\nFurther to having the programmatic specs of a powerhouse, the clients\u2019 brief sought to extend the house, creating space enough to accommodate their family, professional and personal lives; honour the heritage detail of the original c.1890s architecture; and shed substandard additions that had been made to the structure throughout the course of its lifetime to date.\r\n\r\n\u201cWhen we convert heritage houses to meet contemporary life, we often see the beautiful old cellular rooms of the house becoming bedrooms,\u201d says Hannah, describing the antithesis of the plan for Glebe House. Although it often makes a lot of sense, \u201cthis is an easy, knee-jerk planning response,\u201d she says.\r\n\r\n\u201cIn this instance, we were determined to keep the gracious old rooms as living spaces and frame views the length of the site, through old living, to contemporary kitchen all the way through the courtyard and shaded outdoor living and lane.\u201d\r\n\r\n\u201cThe original house was so impeccably built and so detailed and rich. It had all been painted white and felt a bit sad,\u201d says Hannah. \u201cOur goal was to take the spirit of the Victorian design and work out how to manifest that spirit in 2021.\u201d Exaggerated proportions, decorative motifs, and material artifice\u2014details that reigned supreme in Victorian architectural vernacular\u2014express themselves in modern light, throughout Tribe Studio\u2019s witty design response. \r\n\r\nSo as not to violate its original fabric, the architects opted not to chase the walls of the original dwelling to take electricity. Instead, Tribe developed a playful dialogue of light poles, which act \u201clike an oversized conduit\u201d, to deliver the modern comforts of electricity and data throughout the renovated abode. Painted in colours pulled from the palette of a favourite Francis Bacon painting, the finished light poles adorn the interiors with a whimsical sense of character. Internal walls are ragged, in grey, for a soft finish, that offsets the playfully hued light poles and makes original decorative mouldings pop. \r\n\r\nMaking one exception to the ardent preservation and restoration of the heritage volume, Tribe Studio cut away a portion of the original roof geometry, in order to draw natural light into the centre of the plan. The new parts of the house are comparatively modest in their expression; presenting as little more than stripped back versions of arched brick walls, painted white in finish. \r\n\r\nArtwork becomes a conduit for displays of the clients\u2019 personal expression throughout the interior design. \u201cWe like to work with clients\u2019 existing art collections, and also love to be involved in expanding their collections to be contemporaneous with the house construction. Together, they are a telling cultural artefact,\u201d says Hannah.\r\n\r\nThrough Tribe\u2019s exacting eye and artful finesse, a curated art selection\u2014featuring works by contemporaries including Abdul Abdullah, Caroline Rothwell, Julian Meagher and Debra Dawes\u2014culminates in an atmosphere that is altogether candid and calming, articulated with a distinctive quirk.