Dowe House, Millswood
Southern location, eastern promises
Royal Australian Institute of Architects, Commendation (Archicentre Renovation Category), 2005
A century of additions had done little for the amenity and functional performance of this Victorian-era home. It had become a dark and suffocating labyrinth of small rooms not suited to any use in particular and featuring little more than a fireplace and a chandelier. It needed a comprehensive make-over that reconnected human needs with the built and natural environments.
The Tectvs architectural solution for the new addition was to open up the dark working areas at the rear of the building to re-orientate the house by making the kitchen the focal point of a family-friendly open zone. It designed a substantial galvanised steel and glass box to house a contemporary kitchen, family and entertainment area, opening on to a large deck for outdoor living and entertaining that also functions to connect the addition to the existing garden and pool. The bonus of shifting the focus of life to the east-facing rear of the house was that the new space would be bathed in the morning sun and naturally lit for the entire day.
The redevelopment included a scullery for catering to family and social functions and an upgrade of the bathrooms. It also involved resolving several issues that typically arise when 19th-century houses are opened up, including the potential advance of rising damp in solid stone walls and insulating cellars from the outside air.