The suburb’s vernacular is typified by an eclectic mix of federation houses, some remodelled in what is locally known as the ‘European style’ – the result of a largely migrant population modernising older housing stock to meet their requirements. This also brought a form of suburban agriculture to Mt Lawley: vegetable gardens, lean-to’s, drying sheds, incinerators, pizza ovens etc. creating another world of industry and infrastructure to the rear of these blocks and invisible from the street.

Remodelling of federation houses became so commonplace in the area, the local Council considered applying a heritage listing to the altered housing stock. While this didn’t eventuate, it presented an interesting idea of the historic and cultural value of these houses that we were compelled to respond to. The Camino House is the outcome of a ‘renovated-renovation’. It preserves the buildings chequered history, embraces its eclectic style and perhaps even amplifies it.

We searched for a relevant form for a two-storey extension to the rear of the block. Seen from the street, this form could suggest some tangible association to the backyard. The idea of chimney form, an ‘oast’ presented a familiar figure from the neighbourhood (Lincoln Street Ventilation Stack) and conveyed the aesthetics of a building ‘at work’. It is an industrial motif upgraded for the 21st century, rather than heating or drying, it is naturally ventilating the interiors.