This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

A Boldly Re-imagined Victorian Worker's Cottage

Architecture

It’s safe to say every architect probably dreams of one day designing his or her own home. Dominic Pandolfini of Pandolfini Architects took on this challenge with some trepidation and a very real fear of ‘messing it up’. We’re happy to report – he didn’t!

This afternoon, we take a tour of Dominic’s cleverly re-imagined Victorian cottage in Port Melbourne, which he shares with his partner Emily, and kids Luca (2) and Bay (7 months).

9th February, 2018

Inside the home of Dominic Pandolfini of Pandolfini Architects.  Styling – Nina Provan. Photo – Rory Gardiner, courtesy of Pandolfini Architects.

The exterior of the Port Melbourne home. Styling – Nina Provan. Photo – Rory Gardiner, courtesy of Pandolfini Architects.

Solid steel plate custom fabricated balustrade. Styling – Nina Provan. Photo – Rory Gardiner, courtesy of Pandolfini Architects.

Black zinc cladding by VM Zinc, with custom steel balustrading. Styling – Nina Provan. Photo – Rory Gardiner, courtesy of Pandolfini Architects.

Styling – Nina Provan. Photo – Rory Gardiner, courtesy of Pandolfini Architects.

Black zinc cladding by VM Zinc. Styling – Nina Provan. Photo – Rory Gardiner, courtesy of Pandolfini Architects.

Styling – Nina Provan. Photo – Rory Gardiner, courtesy of Pandolfini Architects.

The living room floor is polished concrete, with hydronic heating. Styling – Nina Provan. Photo – Rory Gardiner, courtesy of Pandolfini Architects.

Terrazzo tiles in bathroom by Signorino.  Styling – Nina Provan. Photo – Rory Gardiner, courtesy of Pandolfini Architects.

Styling – Nina Provan. Photo – Rory Gardiner, courtesy of Pandolfini Architects.

Terrazzo tiles in bathrooms by Signorino. Styling – Nina Provan. Photo – Rory Gardiner, courtesy of Pandolfini Architects.

Terrazzo tiles in bathrooms by Signorino. Styling – Nina Provan. Photo – Rory Gardiner, courtesy of Pandolfini Architects.

Black zinc cladding by VM Zinc. Styling – Nina Provan. Photo – Rory Gardiner, courtesy of Pandolfini Architects.

View from internal courtyard to dining area. Styling – Nina Provan. Photo – Rory Gardiner, courtesy of Pandolfini Architects.

Rear exterior of the home. Styling – Nina Provan. Photo – Rory Gardiner, courtesy of Pandolfini Architects.

A short corridor at the front of the house, before you enter the double height space. Styling – Nina Provan. Photo – Rory Gardiner, courtesy of Pandolfini Architects.

Lucy Feagins
Friday 9th February 2018

‘I wanted this house to be full of natural light, and imbue the spaces with unexpected volume and a sense of drama. ‘ – Dominic Pandolfini.

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.

View Comments

Similar Stories

Architecture

A Pavilion in the Trees

A spectacular, seamless addition to an existing mid-century house in Camberwell, by Melbourne firm AM Architecture.

Architecture

Point Lonsdale Studio

A sleek new design project on Victoria's Surf Coast by young architect Rob Ashby.

Architecture

A Triumphant West Brunswick Extension

The humble Californian bungalow, transformed and updated by Taylor Knights architects.

This Week

On The Market

A Chic Family Home In The Heart Of Fitzroy Is For Sale!

A unique renovated home with crazy paving, double height ceilings and a north-facing backyard in the most tightly held pocket of Fitzroy.

Homes

A Perfectly Personalised Art Deco Rental

The colourful, art deco South Yarra apartment of Skinny Wolf owner and florist Leila Sanderson, and sound engineer Tony Espie.

News

These Hand Painted Ceramics Celebrate The Soft Power Of Women

Femme Fantasy is the new 22-piece collaborative collection of painted, ceramic vessels from artist Marisa Mu and ceramicist Alicia McVilly.

Modernist Australia

A Pristine Mid-Century Family Home Buried In Greenery

A North Balwyn home designed by architect Alan Nance and built in 1957 is on the market, and it's amazing!
Trish Callan
1.34

One Room Wonders

A Classic, Colourful Kids Room Transformation

We transform a simple baby's bedroom, with Surround by Laminex wall panelling, and a playful injection of colour, pattern and texture!

Shopping

Greenhouse Interiors Have Transformed This Heritage Warehouse Into A Fully Shoppable Interiors Mega Space!

Julia Green’s latest venture is her most ambitious yet - a completely shoppable interior project spanning 600 square metres and two floors...

Podcast

Cormach Evans On Creating Space For Aboriginal Excellence, On TDF Talks

In our podcast season finale, Yorta Yorta man Cormach Evans talks to host Lucy Feagins about the two organisations he founded and directs: S...

Architecture

A Flood-Proof Transformation Of A 1960s Brisbane Home

Lineburg Wang saved a 1960s Paddington, Brisbane home from future flood damage, and added an inspired indoor-outdoor extension.

Architecture

A Breathtaking Coastal Home On The Tasmanian Shoreline

This serene holiday home by Tanner Architects makes the most of its rugged Tasmanian outlook.

Designers At Home

At Home With Architect Shin Kil + Visual Merchandiser Jessie Choi

The minimalist Fitzroy apartment of architect Shin Kil and visual merchandiser Jessie Choi, featuring the sleek Samsung The Serif TV.

News

The Ultimate Tap For A Minimalist Kitchen

New additions to Phoenix’s award-winning Axia line expand the modern minimalist collection to sleek new heights!
Sponsored

On The Market

Victorian Charm Meets Dramatic Modern Luxury In This Princes Hill Home For Sale

Featuring so many modern, custom made elements, every room in this house has its own distinct personality!
Sally Tabart
  5 hours ago

Interiors

Summer 2022 Colour Trend Predictions + WIN Dulux Paint & A Rachel Castle Artwork!

Get inspired by these vibrant and joyous Dulux paint colours set to take over home interiors this summer. Plus, your chance to win 20 litres...

Shopping

Shop Local At This Fabulous Pop-Up, By Four Of Our Favourite Creatives

Hattie Molloy, Sunday Salon, Curio Practice and Nicole Lawrence Studio come together for a month-long retail residency in Fitzroy. Retail is...

Shopping

11 Curated, Independent Homewares Stores We're Obsessed With!

The gifting season is upon us, but these local stores have an impeccable selection of items all year round!
Sasha Gattermayr
  13 hours ago

Similar Stories

Architecture

A Pavilion in the Trees

A spectacular, seamless addition to an existing mid-century house in Camberwell, by Melbourne firm AM Architecture.

Architecture

Point Lonsdale Studio

A sleek new design project on Victoria's Surf Coast by young architect Rob Ashby.

Architecture

A Triumphant West Brunswick Extension

The humble Californian bungalow, transformed and updated by Taylor Knights architects.

The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.