A Victorian cottage makeover in Melbourne

Nestled in the inner suburbs of Ascot Vale, Australia, lies a wonder in it's own right. An old Victorian cottage defies odds with this simplistic renovation that assures a stern nod to bygone eras.

A creative Victorian cottage house in Melbourne
ARTICLE FIGR Architects IMAGE Tom Blachford

At the street elevation, Datum House takes subtle cues from the neighbouring properties in roof form and material references. The project took inspiration from its surroundings and context and reinterprets its findings through a contemporary take on a traditional Victorian elevation, resulting in a considered outcome and street integration. The architect started off with the client’s extensive brief for a home that had to house a growing family of 5.
The domestic container envelope was derived from a simple extrusion of the Victorian cottage silhouette, placed onto the narrow sloping site to set up a defined datum. The outcome is a result of the envelope being manipulated by the surrounding context, the required amenity and its negotiation with the existing site constraints.
An open-plan kitchen with modernist appliances
The split-level arrangement was a response to the conditions of the sloping site and the site constraints of the neighbouring dwellings. The program was carefully arranged and contained within the extruded envelope to respond to the rescode requirements for side setbacks and furthermore to formally integrate the building into its context. The final outcome is as much about the atmosphere and spaces within the house as it is about the connection of those spaces to its context and surroundings.
The idea to subtract a volume from the envelope of the building to create a centrally located courtyard evolved as a strategy to offer the house access to natural light and to provide the rooms with visual amenity.
A small corner of the house where people can relax
Insertions into the envelope in the form of the black metal shrouds establish openings that relate to both visual and natural light amenities. These moments open the domestic container envelope to reveal elements of the context beyond. A large pivot window extends the daybed into the rear yard to transform the window into a seating and reading platform.  
A central courtyard is presented at the entry. Stepping into the entry alcove the clients are presented with a choice to turn left and enter into the main living quarters, to go straight and access the central courtyard or to turn right to take 5 steps up into the green carpeted retreat or 14 steps down into the lower ground kid’s bedroom quarters.
An overview of the house with a door open
Datum house is divided into 3 levels, ground level housing the open plan living with a linear kitchen arrangement tying together the dining and living spaces, flanked by the backyard to the south and the central courtyard to the north. Level 1 contains the retreat/study, European laundry, main bedroom and ensuite and lower ground houses 3 kids bedrooms, bathroom & WC.

You might be interested in reading: Cottage renovation in Fremantle.

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This article featured on page 99 in Issue 024 of Renovate Magazine. Renovate Magazine is an easy to use resource providing fresh inspiration and motivation at every turn of the page.

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