Datum House by Rob Kennon Architects
The Datum House project is a restoration and renovation project by Melbourne-based studio Rob Kennon Architects. It involves the refurbishing of an existing Victorian weatherboard house and its transformation into a modern dwelling that can accommodate the everyday lives of the client’s family.
Located in the Abbotsford suburb of Melbourne, Australia, the Datum House has undergone a significant restoration and addition work with a goal to differentiate each functional zone of the home by clever use of volume and light.
This existing Victorian weatherboard dwelling required significant restoration and original work to suit its new young family. The main aim on this south-facing block was to differentiate each functional zone by adjusting volume and light, as opposed to materials or planning. A conscious datum line that runs through the addition amplifies the changes in volume. Internally, modified plywood panels run below the datum with plaster above, while externally, painted recycled brickwork runs below and shiplap hardwood cladding features above. The alteration in materials above the line highlights volumetric shift, while the texture of brickwork and grain of plywood extenuates light and shadow below the line. A similar concept is replicated in the bathroom tiling.
The distinct roof profile is simplistic in form but surprisingly generous in volume, matching the volume shifts inside. In the dining and kitchen space, the ceiling rakes from the low point of the datum to a significant peak, achieving morning sun through the high-level glazing to the east.
Two sections of large sliding doors, which access the rear garden, frame views to the outdoor swing and a lemon tree, nostalgia from the sites migrant heritage, drawing the kids outside.
Adjacent to the main living space is a separate room with an asymmetrical cathedral ceiling, the height accentuated by a hanging, black steel fireplace, backdropped by views of the backyard and the industrial building beyond. At the room’s opposing end, the space is opened to northern light by a courtyard, which also provides light and views to the adjoining kitchen, living and bathroom spaces. The courtyard can be accessed directly from the street, acting as a second, less formal entry to the home.
The rear studio is separately leased, with access from the rear lane, this transitions the project from public to private. The laneway elevation is separated into masonry, timber and corrugated iron components to sit comfortably with the scale and materials in the laneway. The skillion roof volumetrically and visually connects to a neighbouring Robinia tree and sky beyond.