New angles: sustainable renovation

Issue 32 Words: Verity Campbell Photography: Peter Clarke
Thornbury, VIC
  • The rear plantation-sourced spotted gum facade is modelled on summer sun angles in a striking alternative to widened eaves. The angles replicate those of midsummer sun to keep it from entering the house, while allowing winter sun to stream in.
  • The character of the classic cool-climate weatherboard was preserved at the street front and in the original part of the house, with original and replaced Baltic pine floorboards linking the old and the new.
  • A recessed curtain track runs the length of the north-facing double-glazed sliding doors, "just in case", but so far they have found the space comfortable enough in all seasons to not need the curtains.
  • The high ceilings of the original home were followed through into the extension, creating a modern, light-filled addition divided into four areas: kitchen, dining, living room, and rumpus. A multi-purpose rumpus/library adjoins the lounge, complete with an integrated fish tank and hidden window seat for a tranquil reading spot.

Most architects and building designers want to design their own home at some stage in their career. For Matthew Duignan, from Mesh Design + Projects, a perfectly orientated but dilapidated weatehrboard meant opportunity beckoned sooner than expected.

Matthew and his family had bought a charming double-fronted period home in Thornbury, inner Melbourne, for their growing brood. The home had four generously-sized bedrooms, a leafy north-facing backyard, and a leaky 80s addition. It offered the perfect chance to transform a period home into a contemporary living environment while retaining as much of hte backyard as possible, and avoiding the common “large open box”.

The rear addition to the classic Edwardian was unsalvageable. Matthew restumped the original home; insulated its walls, ceilings and floors where possible; and retained and renovated the existing bathroom and laundry, while cleverly tucking a new ensuite by the couple’s bedroom.

Matthew’s approach to the new addition was to create “defined areas of functionality” as an antidote to that “large open box”. To a certain extent the addtion mirrors the functional layout of the earlier add-on. It’s divided into four areas: kitchen, dining, living room, and multifunctional space – currently set up for rumpus. Keen to keep the footprint of the renovation small, Matthew estimates this new addition swallowed a mere 10 square metres of backyard.

Mindful of the family’s changing needs, Matthew’s mulitfunctional-rumpus off the main living room is now a library and toy depository, though over time he hopes it will be more respite, less rumpus. An integrated fish tank, a soothing centrepiece for the space, sits alongside an east-facing window seat – a lovely sun-drenched spot to catch up on the day’s news.

Alongside the playful, more subtle design nuances of the home, Matthew’s grand design gesture was a striking timber-clad rear facade, a way for the building designer to explore passive solar design through less conventional means. The design integrates eaves into the building from itself, rather than traditional “add-on” eaves, which can seem an afterthought. The facade is designed to the summer sun, says Matthew. “It replicates the angles of midsummer sun, while in winter the sun streams in.”

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Cover of Issue 32
You can read more about New angles: sustainable renovation in Issue 32 of Sanctuary magazine.

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Mess Design + Projects

Form2, Michael Harvey


$ 280 000

Land 370 sqm
House 170 sqm

6 Stars

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