Moloney Architects were recently brought on to design a modern extension to an 1863 house in Daylesford, Victoria (about 90 minutes north-west of Melbourne). 

Being located in the town’s central church district, the property was bound by height restrictions in order to protect the neighbourhood’s character. Moloney Architects embraced the challenges of this heritage requirement, leading to an outcome that ultimately improved the design. ‘By forcing us to keep the building low, we pursued a subtle form with a focus on materiality instead of the bold architectural statement,’ says Mick Moloney, director of Moloney Architects. 

The extension takes the form of a white brick pavilion with full-height steel windows, and creates a courtyard between the old and new structures. While distinctly contemporary, this new pavilion sits quietly in the landscape so as not to overwhelm the church architecture surrounding the home. Summer heat is controlled via a timber pergola on the north facade, while manually sliding timber screens to the west filter low afternoon sun. 

Connecting the new and old structures is a linkway containing space for art, contemplation and a steel archway in a nod to the building’s heritage. ‘We tried to respect the original structure while also clearly defining new interventions,’ says Mick. ‘We believe that designers really do a disservice to the integrity of heritage architecture by trying to imitate it. The requirements of modern life require a modern architectural language.’

To establish the existing structure’s age, an exploratory demolition process was undertaken during this project, revealing multiple additions over time. ‘Rather than agonise over the hierarchy of each past intervention, the structure is celebrated for what it is – a built record of multiple re-imaginings of a house to suit different purposes over time,’ says Mick. This older portion home has since been converted into three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a formal living room, study, and a semi-enclosed terrace space.

By spreading out the footprint of this newly extended home around a courtyard, Moloney Architects have succeeded in both opening up the space, and better connecting it with the outdoors. When Mick now visits his clients in the house, he most enjoys sitting in the linkway between the old and new parts of the home, and taking in views of the surrounding church buildings.



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