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A House That Leans Into The Land

Architecture

Sometimes, you just don’t know what you want in a home, until you see it with your own eyes.

In this case, the owners of a heritage cottage in central Ballarat, were so inspired after viewing a project by local architecture firm Moloney Architects, they decided to do the unthinkable – start all over again. They sold the cottage they had planned to renovate, and sought out a new site which would enable them to build a new, architecturally designed home from scratch.

The result is Two Halves House, the spectacular new house that the owners never knew they needed!

19th July, 2018

The Two Halves house by Moloney Architects. Photo – Christine Francis.

The house is divided into two equal pavilions, linked by an internal structure. Photo – Christine Francis.

The owners initially approached Moloney Architects for a modest renovation to a heritage cottage in Ballarat! Photo – Christine Francis.

The second pavilion houses the living spaces. Photo – Christine Francis.

One of the primary requirements of the owners was to extend the natural experience of sitting around the kitchen island. Photo – Christine Francis.

One of the bedrooms in the ‘top’ pavilion, comprising the sleeping and bathing portions of the house. Photo – Christine Francis.

Looking into the living, kitchen and dining area from the internal linkway. Photo – Christine Francis.

The open-plan living, kitchen and dining space. Photo – Christine Francis.

Low bench-seating runs the perimeter of the living area to encourage casual conversations. Photo – Christine Francis.

A cosy nook. Photo – Christine Francis.

The split-level solution allowed the site to fulfil its maximum potential (featuring Fergus the dog!). Photo – Christine Francis.

One of the bathrooms in the top pavilion. Photo – Christine Francis.

Bedroom details. Photo – Christine Francis.

Due to its location in a high bush-fire risk area, Mick and his team used naturally fire resistant Blackbutt cladding to meet requirements. The timber will weather over time and blend into its environment. Photo – Christine Francis.

Photography by Christine Francis.

Sally Tabart
Thursday 19th July 2018

With a fixer upper to renovate, Ballarat based couple Sam and Sarah approached local architecture firm Moloney Architects, attracted to their contemporary aesthetic and sustainable design principles.  It wasn’t long before they were invited to view one of the firm’s recently completed projects in nearby Invermay. ‘Within a few days, they had put their house on the market’, architect Mick Moloney tells us. And so began the origin story Two Halves House.

Then began the search for the perfect block of land to build their forever home. After a few months, a site was secured. Sharing many similarities with the Invermay project that had originally sparked their imagination, everyone agreed this sloping site capturing spectacular south-valley views towards Ballarat was *the one*.

While the brief was relatively simple in its requirements – a four bedroom home with enough room for future kids and plenty of entertainment – the site itself presented its challenges. Rigid building restrictions and the way the land was subdivided meant the proposed building could only be oriented north-south, whereas the most logical orientation was east-west. Rather than letting these difficulties dictate a less than perfect result, Mick and his team truly leant into every challenge, and it’s their intelligent design response that has earned this house notoriety.

Mick and his team proposed building the house in two equal pavilions, at two different heights, connected by an internal linking structure. This split-level response allowed the house to settle into the sloping site, rather than perch on top of it. ‘Separating the pavilions vertically allowed us to follow the slope of the site, and minimise disruption to the flow of the landscape,’ Mick explains, ‘…This project shows that it’s possible to work with the landscape and still create the spaces required for modern family life.’

As well as considerations for Sam and Sarah’s future family, Mick notes the owners’ love of entertaining as a major factor in the open-plan living area (zoned in the second pavilion). A built-in bench traces the perimeter of the entire living level, extending the natural experience of sitting around the kitchen island into a conversation area.

The house ‘hosts a full gamut of events and parties’ according to Mick, the owners making the most of this socially-designed house by opening their doors to a number of community events including the first Ballarat Open House in 2017. The fruitful relationship between Moloney Architects and their enthusiastic clients to create a truly innovative new home, has given this house a social life of its own!

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