Dominic Pandolfini launched his own architecture studio, Pandolfini Architects, in 2012, after working for six years with Wood Marsh Architecture. Today, his practice consists of a team of six talented young architects, working on a range of high-end residential and multi-residential projects.
One of Dominic’s most important project in recent years, though, was the renovation of his own home in Port Melbourne. The challenge? To turn a tiny, dilapidated Victorian cottage into a functional, flexible home for a busy young family (Dom’s partner Emily, Luca (2), Bay (7 months) and Romy the groodle!).
‘The original house was in terrible condition when we purchased it; half of the house had sunk into the ground and would literally be underwater when it rained,’ Dom recalls. From start to finish the project took three years; two years to design, obtain council approval and prepare the construction documentation; and one year of construction.
Dom is refreshingly candid when discussing the challenges of being his own client – he recalls a very real fear of ‘messing it up’ and having to notice any little mistakes every single day!
Like any project, balancing the budget was also difficult. ‘Building can be so expensive and I’ve been fortunate to work on some projects with generous budgets. You get used to throwing around big numbers but when it is your own money (or lack of) it is a real reality check – it was a good learning curve.’
The narrow site (five-metre-wide) presented its own challenges. ‘Because of the tight-knit neighbourhood and council heritage controls, there was a very definite footprint we were allowed to build within’ Dom explains. ‘The front section of the house had to be rebuilt and the new addition couldn’t be visible from the street’ he explains. The narrow site and orientation of the block (the back garden faces south) also made it difficult to get light into the space.
Dom prioritised natural light over extra floorspace, incorporating an internal courtyard between the original building and new addition. The new section of the home is made up of two separate forms; a single and a double storey volume. These forms are separated by a large skylight which spans the full width of the property, and floods the interior with natural light.
‘I grew up in dark terrace houses with long corridors, and I’ve always had an aversion to them,’ Dom explains. ‘I wanted this house to be full of natural light, and imbue the spaces with unexpected volume and a sense of drama, and I think we’ve managed to achieve this.’
Pandolfini architects have a busy year ahead! Construction is about to begin on Woy Woy – a renovation and addition to a modernist apartment building overlooking the Bay in Elwood, originally designed by Geoffrey Mewton and Roy Grounds (National Gallery of Victoria). Aside from this, there’s a beach house in Sorrento, a boutique apartment development in Armadale and the studio’s first residential project in Sydney – watch this space!
This renovation / addition was built by Duobuilt.