Doncaster House in Melbourne

Doncaster House, Melbourne Residence, Like living in the 70s Building, Victoria Architecture Images

Doncaster House in Melbourne

Like living in the 70s Development in Victoria, Australia – design by Steffen Welsch Architects

16 Mar 2017

Like living in the 70s

Design: Steffen Welsch Architects

Location: Doncaster, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Like living in the 70s

Doncaster House

Like living in the 70s is a revival of a late modernist home in suburban Doncaster. Our practice viewed this project as ‘departure with the aim of continuity’, based on the paradigm that any new design is derived from a pre-existing condition – ‘to blend in or contrast?’ made redundant.

Doncaster House

In our practice we work to principles of ‘simple moves’ and economy: no more, or less, than is necessary to achieve our program. Work in this typology typically ‘finishes the job’, rather than ‘starts from scratch’.

Doncaster House

The renovation was called to resolve matters insufficiently addressed in the original design: thermal comfort, family dynamics, privacy needs, relationship with landscape, connectivity and future use. We investigated the shortcomings of the original scheme while acknowledging the cultural responsibility to the sensibilities of the suburban context and its architectural vocabulary. The original plan appeared open and fluid but restricted activities to undersized rooms. The architectural language applied to the original house was strong but could not camouflage planning inefficiencies: zoning was outdated; external spaces were insufficiently defined, hard to access or under-developed.

Doncaster House

Our solution was integration and fragmentation: we consolidated and reinforced the existing fabric as a shield from the street to deal with noise, pollution, heat, and weather. We dissolved (fragmented) the rear to accommodate family activities simultaneously while visually and functionally connecting the generous renewed interior with the leafy rear garden.

Doncaster House

What are the sustainability features?
Our firm takes an analytical and empirical approach to sustainable design. In this project we practiced simple principles of economy and passive solar design. The decision for discipline with small structural changes, minimal additions, and a focus on upgrade, transformed an old leaky house into an energy efficient, high-performance home – rather than a new build. Material and building system choices were based on thermal performance over aesthetics. The new stone walls – insulated on the outside and clad in charred timber – are a simple reverse masonry veneer wall system with heavy thermal mass inside and insulation outside.

Doncaster House Doncaster House

What was the brief?
The renovation was called to resolve matters insufficiently addressed in the original design: thermal comfort, family dynamics, privacy needs, relationship with landscape, connectivity and future use. We investigated the shortcomings of the original scheme while acknowledging the cultural responsibility to the sensibilities of the suburban context and its architectural vocabulary. The original plan appeared open and fluid but restricted activities to undersized rooms. The architectural language applied to the original house was strong but could not camouflage planning inefficiencies: zoning was outdated; external spaces were insufficiently defined, hard to access or under-developed.

Doncaster House

What was the solution?
Our solution was integration and fragmentation: we consolidated and reinforced the existing fabric as a shield from the street to deal with noise, pollution, heat, and weather. We dissolved (fragmented) the rear to accommodate family activities simultaneously while visually and functionally connecting the generous renewed interior with the leafy rear garden.

The alterations and minimal extensions re-zoned the house from sleeping on one side and living on the other to a children’s sleeping and living wing on one end, a parents’ retreat at the back, and a central interconnected communal living and service area. The communal spaces access three different outdoor spaces for three different uses: kitchen and herb courtyard, outdoor group entertaining, and quiet retreat. The house developed into an interactive and dynamic environment that is well suited to family life today while considering future changes in family dynamics.

Doncaster House

Residence M – Building Information

Design: Steffen Welsch Architects
Location: Doncaster, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Completion date: 2016

Doncaster House

Photography: Rhiannon Slatter

Doncaster House in Melbourne images / information received 160317


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Website: Steffen Welsch Architects