Balancing the need for contemporary living requirements and a desire for more sustainable, efficient buildings with heritage controls can be tough. Victorian-era cottages, for example, are common in Melbourne's inner city. But these buildings are also notoriously inefficient, being difficult to heat in winter and limited cross-flow ventilation makes them hot and stuffy in summer. Heritage controls limit the allowable modifications to these historic buildings to keep the neighbourhoods suitably picturesque, but these limitations can also lock in the less efficient side of these homes.
Luckily, with a bit of creative thinking, Nic Owen Architects have managed to balance the need for a modern sustainable home with a desire (and requirement) to maintain the heritage value of this Clifton Hill House.
The brief aimed to preserve and restore the rundown Victorian cottage to its former glory whilst creating a contemporary addition that inspired a creative life for a 21st Century family.
From the Architect
"Architecture is about designing and creating spaces for people to live an enhanced aesthetic life. This is accomplished through an efficient and functional arrangement of space and utilities while encouraging an expressive and creative lifestyle. The main objective with the Clifton Hill House was to create a home that both shelters and enhances the daily living of the clients for now and generations to come." -- Nic Owen Architects
Sustainability was a priority for both the architect and the client.
"The primary function of providing shelter to a family of four that embraces and respects the environment while protecting and sheltering the clients from the harsh elements has resulted in a building that can honestly call itself 'green'." -- Nic Owen Architects
- A 20,000 underground water tank for rainwater catchment is used for gardening, laundry and toilet flushing
- Solar heat minimisation through fixed and retractable sun canopies
- “Cool Colour” paint technology by Resene used to reflect the sun's heat
- Renewable timber
- High rated insulation
Respect and Preserve
The timber Victorian cottage is sited on a corner block with a north facing backyard. The site is in a heritage overlay which protects the original cottage. The alterations and additions have aimed to respect and preserve the original building while creating a contemporary piece of architecture that enhances the historically significant cottage.
This has been done by:
- Retaining the original Victorian elements of the two front rooms and roof line and reinstating period features as required
- Creating a traditional stable form at the rear of the cottage in a contemporary manner
- Clearly distinguishing between the original and “new” addition with contrasting forms, colours and materials internally and externally.
The successful collaboration between the client, architect and builder has resulted in a project that is a source of pleasure for the client and pride for both the builder and architect. The Nic Owen Architects' passionate vision and drive throughout the project has resulted in a building that marries artistic design with function, heritage with a need for modern sustainable design and satisfies both the client's brief and the architect's creative dreams.