Davies Street Residence

Davies Street Residence

Malvern, East Melbourne, Victoria, Australia | View Map
Project Year
Private Houses
Shannon Mcgrath

Davies Street Residence

studiofour as Architects

The original house was built in the 1980's and comprised of low ceilings and dark,compartmentalized spaces. With strategic replanning of the ground floor, the addition of a first floor, and by integrating the interior with two new courtyards, the house is now flooded with light, fresh air and aspect.


What is the conceptual framework of the project – including underlying principles, values, sustainable initiatives, core ideas and or philosophy? 

The buildings program has been exposed to varying levels of interaction with the surrounding landscape, both immediate and beyond. From the channeled view out to the street tree, to the existing birches and hundred year old oak tree, a series of sliding doors and fixed glazed walls promote this connection, and enable the house to be filled with northern light and flushed with fresh air.


The first floor volume is set back from the street to the rear of the internal courtyard, to allow maximumnorthernlight into the ground floor living zones in winter, while designed not to overshadow thepool in summer.


The inherent low ceilings of the existing residence were used as a datum to develop a strong horizontality throughout the house.  Deep oversized eaves run throughout the ground floor, the eaves not only emphasize this horizontality but extend ones eye from inside to out, promoting connection between both internal and external spaces.


The new first floor addition is defined by a fine fixed steel screen to the full extent of its northern façade.  While continuing a strong sense of horizontality, the screen enables the upper volume to be fully openable, with filtered views to the street.


What contribution does the design make to the lives of its inhabitants?

This project began as an existing single level residence, comprised of low ceilings and a series of dark compartmentalized spaces.


With strategic replanning of the ground floor, and the addition of a new highly flexible first floor, the functions of the house have been extended and rejuvenated and the design adapts to suit the ever changing dynamics of family life.


Cold, dark and stagnant spaces were eliminatedthrough both the insertion of a central courtyard as well as anew connection to the rear garden; all volumes are now provided fresh air, an abundance of natural light and garden aspect.


What is the relationship of the built form to the context of the project? 

Arriving at the house, it is difficult to gain more than a glimpse of the first floor addition through the surrounding urban streetscape. The upper volume is consciously set back from the street and softened by the use of a fine steel screen. From the street, the ground floor facade appears solid in contrast.


This design strategy allowed the first floor spaces to be exposed to varying levels of interaction with the landscape, both immediate and beyond, whilst maintaining a level of visual privacy from the adjacent houses and pedestrian traffic.


Program Resolution – how does the functional performance match the clients brief?

The residence needed to address the current and future demands of a growing family. During our early briefing workshops with the clients, we discovered their desire for a home that encouraged interaction during the peak hours of the weekday as well as more effectively supporting the family’s everyday tasks and the entertaining of large groups of family and friends.


Equally important however was our client’s vision to have a home that supported healthy living. Providing a built environment that had abundant access to fresh air, aspect and light was paramount to the success of this project.


Integration of allied disciplines – how have the contributions of others, including architects, interior designers, landscape architects, builders and other specialists, helped achieve the outcome?

Our team at studiofour comprises ofdesigners with experience in architecture, interiors, landscape and art.  With this residence, we were able to provide a holistic design approach and therefore there were no boundaries in this project.  Each discipline bled into another, to inform a cohesive, highly considered outcome.


This being said the support and dedication by our Builder was inherent to the project’s success. As in any alterations project, deviation from our drawings is sometimes necessary as discoveries are made on site; however an effective work shopping environment was created between the two teams to collectively solve each challenge.


Cost / Value outcome – how effective were the decisions related to financial issues?

When approaching this alterations and additions project, our aim was to retain as much of the existing building fabric as possible and work within the existing structural envelope, as this would prove most economical.


This enabled the client’s budget to focus on items such as the custom steel screen and the series of glass sliding doors and walls, which maximized the functionality of the home, while, with their seamless detailing, increased the sense of space and usability, and connection to the surrounding landscape.

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