The site of an old rundown tennis court created a unique opportunity for Moloney Architects to design a contemporary home in the historic town of Kyneton, a town in the Macedon Ranges region of Victoria, Australia.
The tennis court had been subdivided off from the property of a Victorian-era home and offered the Moloney Architects’ clients the best of both worlds: a short walk to the heart of town, yet close to the Campaspe River, surrounded by established trees and parkland. It also delivered an opportunity to build a modern home without the heritage constraints found elsewhere in the town.
Moloney Architects’ clients, a young couple with two children, wanted a contemporary home that suited their needs as a family.
The brief called for a four bedroom, two bathroom house with an open-plan living area and separate music room. The home needed to make the most of the unique site: capture views towards parkland around the Campaspe River to the south-west without sacrificing the home’s privacy, while simultaneously maximising north light for passive solar orientation.
As the site had only recently approved for subdivision, it had no road access, no electricity, and no sewerage connection. Despite having abundant established trees, the site was quite exposed to a public park running alongside it.
Moloney Architects’ clients loved the block and wanted to take in the views to the park, but they didn’t want to feel like they were on display to the many people walking past. So the composition of the floor plan and the orientation of living areas were both important considerations to meet the brief, create a sense of privacy, and make the most of the site’s unique character.
When the old tennis court was created, the site was cut to accommodate it. That cut helped determine the location for the new home. The services and sleeping and living zones of the house were envisaged by Moloney Architects as separate wings, arranged on site to maximise light and access to views.
Rather than cantilevering the living area over the edge of the cutting, Moloney Architects opted to nestle the home into the site, delivering privacy from passers-by; an outlook without being looked at.
Dividing the home into three wings helped to deal with the site orientation. The sleeping and services wing are designed to be heavy, grounding masses, providing privacy to these more intimate zones, as well as protection to the outdoor spaces. In contrast, the living area is light-weight and light-filled, fully embracing and opening up to the landscape, views, and light.
The huge site cut that was made for the old tennis court provided Moloney Architects with a completely flat site. Pushing the building towards the south of the level ground created a private, north-facing courtyard for the kids to run around. This was an amazing space but was disconnected from the parkland towards the south. So the Moloney Architects team opened both sides of the living space to create a bridge between the north courtyard and the south parkland.
The design concept was reinforced with the concrete block wall that sails through from the north courtyard, into the lounge, and then out again to the south terrace. The hallway axis, with its glazing on both ends similarly creates a connection from the east to the west landscape spaces, albeit with smaller apertures to control the west sun.
Oriented towards the north, the living area makes the most of solar orientation – harnessing direct sunlight in winter, while remaining shady and cool in summer.
The outside-inside-outside effect is enhanced by a lowered ceiling over the centre of the living area which creates a more intimate sense of space, but also conceals the window frames from view, allowing the eye to forget the glass barrier.
A deep concrete window seat sits within the design of a ‘gridded’ steel pergola that extends to both sides, blurring the threshold between inside and out. Of course, when the sliding doors are opened the home literally opens to the garden, encouraging daily life to spill outside.
The intentionally cloistered sleeping wing feels private and protected, but glimpses of the landscape were framed to bring the lush greenery inside. In the main bedroom, dark walls focus the eye outdoors while a study space is defined by a built-in desk and shelving unit, meaning both the bedroom and the study can benefit from a much larger space while still having their own distinct zones.
A raw and robust material palette of concrete blocks, black steel, charred timber, natural timber and burnished concrete are assembled on the hillside cutting as a muted backdrop for the landscape.
Moloney Architects’ design cuts a striking silhouette among the trees and gives this neglected parcel of land a new life as family home.
Project size – 280 m2
Site area – 2,290 m2
Completion date – 2020
Building levels – 1
Architecture & Interior Design
Moloney Architects is an award-winning architecture and interior design studio.
Their guiding principle is that good architecture should focus only on finding the best ideas for the essential aspects of their clients’ brief. They don’t do sprawling McMansions, but design buildings that are just the right size to meet their clients’ needs.
Dave is based in Richmond, Melbourne and is a recognized architecture, interiors, and lifestyle photographer. He recently published an interesting photo book that provides a visual perspective of architecture and design in North Korea’s capital city Pyongyang.
Click on a thumbnail image to enlarge.
Design © 2020 Moloney Architects. All Rights Reserved.| Images © 2020 Dave Kulesza. All Rights Reserved.
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