Dorcas Street Cottage

South Melbourne

Bordered by new developments, it’s difficult to reconcile this street as being heritage protected. However, this was the case when the owners, a couple of empty nesters, purchased this single-fronted timber block Victorian terrace. On a modest site of 170 square metres, the owners came with an extensive wish list albeit the size of the property or the house, the latter being in extremely poor condition. Adding to the mire of challenges was that the house is located in a flood zone – hence, rather than try and elevate the original part of the home, essentially two rooms, it was considered more appropriate by RUBI Architects to completely rebuild the cottage in its period style, including an open fireplace in the front room period along with period details such as wide skirting boards and architraves.

When the cottage is reworked and extended it will still present as a Victorian terrace to the street but will also include a substantial two-storey extension clad in dark coloured steel to ensure that the contemporary wing is recessive. The new wing will comprise a spacious open plan kitchen, dining and living area that will lead to a generous outdoor terrace. And on the first floor will be a second living area, a study nook and a main bedroom, complete with ensuite and walk-in dressing area. A kitchenette is also included in the design, ideal for making a cup of tea or coffee without having to go downstairs.

One of the main challenges with this project was creating a sense of space when the entire width of the house – boundary to boundary – is only 5 metres in width. The other consideration was to increase the amount of natural light entering the home. While large glass sliding doors in the living area leads to the north-facing garden, additional skylights and glass floor were required to increase the amount of light entering the southern passage.

Conveniently located, the first floor will benefit from the dramatic city skyline views. And although there is limited space in a house built on a small plot, this design will be endowed with generous built-in joinery, allowing the owners to retain their family heirlooms and keepsakes. Not obvious from the street, this will be a sizeable home at approximately 230 square metres in area, while still allowing for the memory of the Victorian cottage to remain.

Feeling inspired?

Let’s speak about your project.
Even a five-minute chat can give you fresh direction.