Design and construction are in Rob Ashby’s blood – his father was a builder, and he has fond memories of growing up on and around building sites. ‘This upbringing gave me an invaluable insight to some of the complexities involved with the construction process, and led me to a career as an architect,’ he explains.
After commuting three-hours a day to Melbourne for seven years, in 2015 Rob took the leap of faith and established his own practice. He now works from his home-base in Anglesea on the Surf Coast of Victoria.
The Point Lonsdale Studio project came about when previous clients from Melbourne purchased a beach house in Point Lonsdale, which required a new, self-contained studio building for friends and family to come and stay.
Rob’s concept was based around a simple idea of connecting the two buildings via a large north-facing outdoor area. ‘It was important to me and the clients that the new building respected the existing home’s form and aesthetic, whilst also commanding its own understated presence on the site,’ Rob explains. In addition to the distinctive black, vertical timber cladding of the existing house, the key material and linking element of the studio was the use of charcoal coloured bricks, selected to reflect an existing brick fireplace in the adjacent main living area of the original house.
‘I was keen to explore the idea of a dark building: obviously in response to the existing building, but also to explore the idea of blurring the line between internal and external spaces,’ Rob explains. He was also motivated by the challenge of designing a small footprint building with an internal feeling of spaciousness. This was realised through a 4.7-metre-high hallway, with high-level north facing windows.
Being the first project he has designed and managed solo since launching his own practice, the Point Lonsdale Studio has reaffirmed for Rob the importance of relationships – particularly when it comes to home design. ‘It was a wonderful project for many reasons, but ultimately it reiterated to me the value and importance of a good client-architect relationship,’ the designer says. ‘The clients were fantastic. They were hands-on enough to be closely involved in all aspects of the process, whilst instilling full trust in me.’ As a reflection of their support of his practice, Rob’s client also recently nominated him for an architectural services award (he received a special commendation!).