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Blairgowrie Beach House

Category: Architecture, Interiors

A contemporary double storey beach house designed to provide flexibility of use, a focus on entertaining and spectacular views to Port Phillip Bay. Externally the building is clad in robust and low maintenance materials suitable for the harsh coastal environment. The primary ‘black box’, which is clad in black aluminium cladding, is punctuated by a white cantilevered canopy which highlights the entry. Black perforated metal and steel slat screens are strategically located to provide visual privacy and security. The L-shaped dwelling, with its entirely glazed northern facade, is deliberately configured to capture northern sunlight and bay views. Cantilevered canopies with adjustable louvres provide selective shading to living areas and create sheltered external entertaining areas on both levels. The ground floor level comprises double garage and storage, with four bedrooms and a large multi-purpose living room opening out onto a north-facing deck and pool area. The open plan first floor living areas open out onto a covered terrace area with clear views to the bay. The white, light-filled interior includes american oak flooring and staircase, porcelain tiles to wet areas, a large stained american oak sliding door to the multi-purpose living room, and a black stained timber veneer kitchen with textured black stone benchtops.

A few words from the Client –

“We just finished building our stunning architect designed beach house on the Mornington Peninsula, designed by Robert Viggiano from Meraki Creative. Robert was very collaborative and flexible during the design process, placing high attention to every detail to create a fantastic end product. He brought lots of great ideas and conducted research for custom products to meet a highly refined brief. His documentation was very detailed which resulted in a seamless transition into construction. Robert also ran a robust tender process, including clarifying details so there weren’t surprises later during construction. We love how all the concepts, design elements and finishes have come together to deliver a high quality product. We are very happy with the design process which matches the end product and would have no hesitation in using Meraki Creative for future projects”.

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Elsternwick Renovation

Category: Architecture, Interiors

The existing brick Edwardian residence was fully restored to it’s original pristine condition. A contemporary two storey addition was created comprising generous light filled living spaces with clean lines and high quality finishes.  Polished concrete creates a seamless and durable floor, while a recycled messmate timber feature wall with concealed laundry door provides a pause between the old and new sections of the dwelling. Open plan living areas were designed to provide physically separate yet visibly connected living spaces linked by a central timber veneer kitchen with long stone island bench. A stunning collection of artwork is displayed along the dining room wall and throughout the residence. Bi-folding doors open up the living spaces to a large timber deck and garden creating a strong indoor-outdoor connection.

A few words from the Client –

“We always felt Robert heard and understood our ideas while he sensitively and productively guided us through the intricacies of a detailed process. The outcome was a set of comprehensive designs detailed down to paint finishes, door furniture and cupboard configurations. These included all the engineering plans and council approvals etc required to take the project through from start to finish. We have now lived in the house for over a year and have been thoroughly thrilled with the quality of design and the detail of finish Robert encouraged us to pursue. We would thoroughly recommend Robert’s services to anyone wanting a high quality modern but classic style particularly those who are working through the design and building process for the first time as we were.”  

 

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Caulfield North Residence

Category: Architecture, Interiors

A new double fronted Victorian residence with timeless contemporary interiors replaces a dilapidated Edwardian residence on this modest 430 square metre site. Our practice was engaged to provide an assessment of the development potential of the site prior to purchase, and was subsequently engaged for full architectural and interior design services following the acquisition of the property. Our Clients were attracted to the period character of the original dwelling and their initial brief involved the restoration of the original dwelling with a two storey addition to the rear. A schematic investigation into what could be gained by demolishing the existing weatherboard dwelling yielded results which were too good to refuse. Additional useable land was gained by locating the new dwelling 1m closer to the street; the limitations of the restrictive layout of the existing dwelling were eliminated; and the significant funds which were to be allocated to the restoration became available for the new build. The result is a remarkably ‘original’ looking dwelling which recreates the true essence of the Victorian style while providing the comforts and amenities that our Clients requested.

A few words from the Client –

“Robert’s advice to build a new house that still met our brief (to maintain the victorian style we wanted) rather than renovate was visionary. The result has been a beautiful double fronted victorian home with all the comforts and “mod cons” of a new home. He did a lot of work to research and find suppliers for what we wanted for our home. He also had some great ideas to improve the functionality of our home without compromising on the design. Our builder felt that Robert worked very hard during the build, was always available for clarification, had excellent documentation and he restored his confidence in architects. Robert was very easy to work with, he had good communication skills and good knowledge. He has designed us, essentially a “bespoked couture” home. I would highly recommend his work.”

 

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Ascot Vale Residence

Category: Architecture, Interiors

A contemporary two storey residence above a 4 car garage which captures existing views to the Maribyrnong River.  The design of the residence enhances the lifestyle of the inhabitants by providing flexibility in accommodating a variety of day to day living scenarios. The residence enables a young family comprising two five year old twin girls and parents to spend quality time together in communal areas whilst the provision of separate living quarters enables isolation when required.  The living level is endowed with large panels of glass at bookends, providing a sense of openness from all areas. The palette of materials includes precast concrete, zinc, glass, limestone, marble and 2 pack joinery. Metal plate architraves, P50 shadow-lines and trimless light fittings throughout further enhance a sense of seamless quality. A central 8m long skylight showers the staircase and circulation areas with natural light.

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Port Melbourne Renovation 1

Category: Architecture

A contemporary two storey addition to an existing ‘Bank House’ in Port Melbourne.

 

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What Are The Intangible Qualities That Make a Home Exceptional?

Category: Architecture

 

“We depend on our surroundings obliquely to embody the moods and ideas we respect and then to remind us of them. We look to our buildings to hold us, like a kind of psychological mould, to a helpful vision of ourselves. We arrange around us material forms which communicate to us what we need — but are at constant risk of forgetting what we need — within. We turn to wallpaper, benches, paintings and streets to staunch the disappearance of our true selves.”  ― Alain de Botton, The Architecture of Happiness

 

We spend a large portion of our time in our homes entertaining, relaxing, working, sleeping, or watching tv. And as such, getting the design of our home right has a huge impact on our overall quality of life. A home has the potential to improve our lives in numerous ways. It can enhance our connection with friends and family, or provide a tranquil environment for rest and relaxation. It can improve our mood and well being and thus make our lives much more enjoyable. Above and beyond the basic requirements of accommodating our spatial, functional and financial requirements; a well designed home must cater to our individual tastes, emotional needs and desires. This can be achieved through the integration of the following qualities.

Spatial Quality

A clever and efficient spatial layout can maximize usable floor area and thus add value to a home. Yet it is the spatial quality of each individual area, and its relationship to the other spaces in a home, that can affect the way that a space is perceived and the way that it is used. High ceilings and an open plan can create a sense of openness and expansiveness for entertaining and interaction. While secluded spaces with lower ceiling heights can provide more intimate spaces for solitude and reflection. With considered spatial quality, and the appropriate connection between interior spaces and between inside and outside, a home will feel larger, will be easier to navigate, and will be better able to accommodate and encourage the desired behaviours and activities of its occupants.

Natural Light

One of the most basic and fundamental human requirements is access to natural light. It allows us to see clearly but it also affects the way that we feel. An abundance of natural light in a home can result in improved energy efficiency, while also helping to create a healthier living environment. Research has confirmed that homes with more daylight exposure have a positive impact on our physical and emotional well-being. Well lit spaces are uplifting and can boost our energy. Access to natural light can also improve sleep and thus our overall quality of life.  Through the strategic location of spaces and the positioning of windows and skylights we are able to control the level of natural light in a space (relative to its use), and thus improve our experience of the space and our overall health and well being.

Ambience

The ambience, or mood, of a home or space can also affect the way that we feel and behave. Through the selection of appropriate finishes and textures, we are able to create an ambience that is conducive to the intended use and experience of a space. The level of natural or artificial light, and how it interacts with the various textures and finishes, will also impact the aesthetics and ambience of a space. Warm and textured surfaces create a more intimate and luxurious ambience, while cold and hard surfaces create a more clinical and industrial feel to a space. The ambience of a home can go a long way to creating a home that is enjoyable to live in.

Conclusion

It can be seen from the above examples that the design of our home can be critical to our well being and our overall quality of life. A home is much more than a series of rooms and surfaces. It can affect the way that we feel and can provide us with the specific living environment and experiences that we need. A home has the potential to improve our lives and can literally transform the way that we live. Through the considered integration of spatial quality, natural light, and ambience, we are able to create a home that maximizes space, light and most importantly experience. A home that is a true reflection of you.

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Things To Consider When Renovating or Building

Category: Architecture, Articles

When considering a property with the intention of building a new home or renovating an existing dwelling, the first thing that needs to be determined is whether the property is able to accommodate all of your spatial requirements.

Building a new home provides the greatest design flexibility as the layout is not limited by the existing floor plan. It is also generally more time and cost effective as there are no hidden surprises or expensive rectification works.

Renovating a period home, on the other hand, can be a great way to achieve a practically new home that combines the beauty of a restored period frontage with a contemporary addition that is more suited to today’s living requirements.

Whatever the nature of your project, the following checklist will ensure that you make an informed decision on the suitability of the property for your home.

1. Town Planning

Before you start your project, it is important that you are aware of the approvals that will be required from local authorities, as well as the regulations that might affect your proposal.

Town Planning Regulations

These include ordinances such as zoning, overlays and rescode guidelines which control the character and extent of what can be built and what type of works require a town planning permit. They control things such as the character of the proposed home or addition, allowable site coverage, maximum building height and the setbacks required from boundaries. Where a town planning permit is required, this will increase the duration of the design stage (by between 3 to 6 months) and can affect the timeframe and cost of the project.

Planning Overlays

Heritage overlay – Streets in older suburbs tend to be lined with classical period dwellings which are protected by heritage overlays. The objective of these overlays is to retain and conserve all significant and contributory heritage places. And as such they can limit the nature, location and extent of the proposed alterations and additions that can be made to the existing dwelling, and whether the dwelling can be demolished. This is critical if you are intending to build a new home on the site.

Tree protection overlay – The location of protected trees can sometimes restrict where you can build on a site and could limit the potential for development.

Special building overlays – A property located within a flood prone area for example may require that the finished ground level be elevated above the designated flood level. This can affect the required height of the dwelling above natural ground level, and can potentially limit the viability and increase the cost of the project.

2. Existing Site Conditions

Orientation

While a north-facing rear yard is optimal, this will often add a premium to a purchase price. An architect is able to bring natural light into any property through the clever configuration of spaces, large panels of glass and the strategic positioning of skylights. This needs to be assessed on a property-by-property basis, as there may be other limiting factors such as large trees or adjoining buildings.

Natural light

Natural light is one of the most precious elements when it comes to well-being and the feel of a home. A property must have excellent access to natural light.

Services Within The Site

This item often goes unnoticed as some services are not physically located within an easement. For example, while more common in older areas, underground services running diagonally through the center of a site can restrict you from building over that part of the property.

Easements and Restrictive Covenants

An easement is a portion of the property which usually contains underground services. Generally an easement cannot be built over with permanent structures and this can therefore affect the space available for new building works. A restrictive covenant can restrict things such as the materials that must be used, the maximum building height, or the number of dwellings on a site.

Surrounding Properties

The built form that surrounds the property can also have a significant impact on what can be built, as planning controls will ensure that the existing amenity of adjoining properties is protected. For example, sensitive interfaces such as habitable room windows, north facing windows and secluded private open space require protection from overlooking and overshadowing. This can limit the location and extent of your proposed dwelling.

Vehicle Access

Does the site have vehicular access for off street parking? Is it possible to apply for a new crossover and create off street parking.

Lot Size

Is the property large enough to accommodate your spatial and functional requirements?

3. The Existing Dwelling (For Renovation Projects)

Existing Dwelling Condition

The majority of period homes are in excess of 100 years old and as such can be quite dilapidated. The selection of a suitable property for renovation should involve an assessment of the condition of the existing dwelling. And most importantly whether it requires any expensive rectification works. The condition of the existing dwelling can have a huge impact on the viability of your renovation project as it will determine whether a large proportion of your budget is exhausted on repairing the existing building. Things such as poor structural integrity (floor, wall, ceiling and roof structure), poor condition of finishes (ie. plaster and flooring), the presence of termites, the presence of asbestos, the presence of rising damp and inadequate sub-floor ventilation can potentially add hundreds of thousands of dollars to the project cost. We recommend that you arrange a building assessment to confirm any major building issues prior to purchasing a property or commencing a significant renovation project.

Existing Floor Plan Layout

Does the existing floor plan allow for ease of alteration and addition? Can the dwelling be added to without excessive structural reconfiguration costs?

Services

Illegally installed or inadequate services such as plumbing and electrical work can be both hazardous and costly to rectify. You should also consider how easily the existing services can be relocated within the existing structure. For example, a concrete slab is far more limiting than timber floor framing, as are solid brick walls more limiting than timber stud walls.

Chimneys

Whilst we all love a fireplace, existing chimneys can restrict the layout of the proposed renovation and can be expensive to remove. In heritage protected dwellings chimneys may be prohibited from being removed.

Conclusion

Any of the above items can potentially add significant cost to your project, and may deem the property unsuitable for development. For this reason, expert advice should be sought in the early stages of the process prior to purchasing a property or proceeding with the design. Once you have confirmed the suitability of the site, you can confidently work with your architect to design a home that meets all of your needs.

 

Create a Home You Love With Meraki. Meraki Creative is a Melbourne based architectural practice specialising in residential architecture and interior design. With over 20 years experience in the industry, our creative team will guide you through the entire building process from concept design to completion. Ensuring the highest quality outcome and protection of your valuable asset. We create beautiful homes that maximize space, light and value. Contact us to discuss your new home or renovation requirements.