From the street, it looks like a routine single storey Victorian semi-detached house in suburban Port Melbourne, Australia. Open the front door and you enter a spacious ultra-contemporary 21st century home, boasting space and light in abundance.

Melbourne is a young city and this 100-year-old house dates from the city's early years. Strict heritage rules apply, so the facade had to be unchanged. Not just that, but the site is a very narrow one.

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The transformation is remarkable. While the facade was meticulously restored, Panolfini Architects added a substantial extension to the rear, clad in black zinc and rising to include a new master bedroom suite. The changes are invisible from the street. Viewed from the rear, the pitched roof silhouette reflects the vernacular architecture.

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Inside, two sleek front bedrooms with pale wood floors now occupy the old part of the building. A spectacular double-height courtyard and black zinc cladding dramatically mark the transition to the new extension. Rendered concrete forms the flooring to a spacious new open plan living area, opening out through full-height glass doors to the garden.

Throughout, black-framed windows and built-in American oak cupboards make the most of the entire space up to the pitched roof, allowing for a repeated triangular design motif that becomes a signature feature.

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So if you thought that honouring history inevitably results in dull design, think again. This bold Port Melbourne house is proof positive that heritage can co-exist with exciting new architecture.

Photographer: Rory Gardiner

Stylist: Nina Provan

Builder: Duo Built