Surprisingly, it’s not often we feature the self-designed home of an architect. I can’t really explain that, it seems crazy that it doesn’t happen more often around here! There is always something extra special about seeing the clever ways in which architects and designers pull their own homes together, as illustrated by today’s creative family home in East st Kilda.
This is the home of Bill and Christine McCorkell and their children Harriet and Sam. Bill is co-owner and Architectural Director of ArchiBlox, an architecture and building company which specialises in modular construction, creating prefabricated homes and home extensions using a flexible, modular building system, and Christine also works in the company, in a PR role.
Generally speaking, prefabrication and modular building is a cost effective, time efficient and sustainable way to build. Material wastage is usually minimised, and build times can be significantly reduced because components (in most cases, entire rooms – walls, windows, everything!) are built off site and in delivered in one piece. ‘We’re really about accessible architecture’ says Bill. ‘We believe that everyone should be able to afford an architecturally designed home that’s beautiful, good for the environment and great for the people who live in it. Bill and Christine’s own home, incorporating a generous rear extension and second floor addition, designed and built by Bill’s company, is the perfect showcase of these design principles in practice.
Bill and Christine have lived here since 2010. Soon after purchasing the home at auction, they set about planning to renovate and extend. ‘The works have been pretty extensive, from the front gate to the rear right of way’ says Christine. The master bedroom, ensuite, laundry, study and main living room are all located within existing structure of the original house. Bill and Christine updated these rooms significantly with custom joinery, new doors and flooring, but the general layout of the old house remains more or less unchanged. The dining room, kitchen and pantry (all on polished concrete floors) are part of the new structure, which opens out onto the garden, whilst two bedrooms and a bathroom for the kids have been added upstairs, accessed by a stairway over the kitchen pantry. ‘Each space offers elements of surprise, but also pays careful consideration to the existing house proportions’ says Christine. Incredibly, the entire renovation was completed in just 21 weeks!
Bill and Christine love the outdoors, and were keen to retain the essence of the leafy block that they first fell in love with here, in particular the rambling ‘park like setting’ of the surrounding garden. Though they’ve increased the footprint of their home (and added a pool!), the backyard still feels generous and functional, with sculptured hills to the rear which cleverly conceal the services for the pool. Beyond this, a workshop and garage can be accessed via a rear laneway.
Designing with sustainability in mind is an everyday preoccupation for Bill. For his own family home, he was keen to prove that efficient, sustainable building methods could be used without sacrificing aesthetics. Polished concrete in the new rooms creates thermal mass for efficient heating and cooling, whilst a carefully considered layout maximises natural ventilation throughout the home. Submerged water tanks, hydraulic heating and use of renewable materials throughout enhance the green credentials of the home.
Bill is a stickler for details, and is particularly fond of the custom designed joinery throughout the home. ‘I love great joinery, it’s real, it’s practical, it’s function is to simplify yet enhance the way we live, and it is, in itself, a work of art’ he says. The plywood bookshelf in the study, custom made by his team at ArchiBlox, is a favourite feature. Another treasured piece is the family’s Mark Tuckey dining table, whilst Christine loves all the pieces she’s bought from Jardan – ‘she’s a little obsessed’ says Bill!
Most of all, the McCorkell family love the garden setting of their home, and the seamless integration between the inside and out. The layout captures every opportunity for external views and natural light, both through the garden, and from the upstairs bedrooms. The family are also very fond of their local neighbourhood. ‘We love the area, the people are genuine, the demographic is eclectic, and our local strip of shops down Carlisle Street is unpretentious – a great local community’ says Christine.
Huge thanks to Bill and Christine for sharing their beautiful home with us today!