BETWEEN my work here and for realestate magazine, I’ve been progressively following the work of renowned architect Esmond Dorney around Hobart over the past two years, though not usually being aware of it until turning up at the home.
As was the case with Bill Dienaar and Wendy Farquhar’s Sandy Bay house which is one of Dorney’s lesser- known properties but equally as beautiful and aesthetically intriguing as all his others.
Celebrated for his use of space and light, Dorney may not have been a prolifi c house designer but his impact has been heavily felt on the Tasmanian architecture world since the 1950s.
Born in Melbourne and working under Walter Burley- Griffin, designer of Canberra city, Dorney settled in Hobart in 1949.
His 1959- built Butterfl y House and the 1978- built Fort Nelson House, also in Sandy Bay, have always attracted attention and accolades for their forwardthinking designs.
What started out as a 1950s one- storey, two- bedroom home overlooking the River Derwent has gradually expanded to become Bill and Wendy’s three- bedroom, two- storey home which they have lived in since 1984.
“Like all Dorney houses which have something round or cylindrical in it, we have the circular sunken lounge room,” Bill said of the standout room on the lower level.
“The curved wall in the ensuite we added to the master bedroom is to balance out this curve we have on the other side of the house.”
Renovating the home in the 1990s, the couple, along with designer Bob Mirowski, were insistent that any extensions should be sympathetic to the original design.
With no one occupying the rear bedroom and living area, Bill and Wendy decided to start a new venture Alexandra on Battery.
“When the kids left home we decided to convert that area into a B& B and
The place is unique, you won’t find another one quite like it in Hobart.
We’ve avoided making it sterile like so many modern homes
added a kitchenette and bathroom,” Bill explained.
“I’ve got a sister in Perth who runs B& Bs and she was our inspiration; she put the idea in our heads.
“We could rent it out as a unit for a uni student but then there would be someone here permanently whereas with the B& B people come and go, which we prefer.”
With its own entrance and great view of Mt Wellington, the accommodation often attracts interstate families and couples who Bill will sometimes invite upstairs to his pride and joy – the jarrah bar.
Encompassing almost 360- degree views of the Derwent, city and Sandy Bay, the atrium- style living area upstairs is a timber haven filled with myrtle, Tasmanian oak and jarrah.
“It’s beautiful at night with all the lights and the city and also the Eastern Shore now too,” Bill said. “Back in the ’ 80s there were only a few speckles of lights over there then.
“If we wanted we could have had a 360- degree view but we wanted some privacy from the houses further up the hill so that’s where the bar went in.
“It’s a really unique view when you have the jerry [ fog] floating down the river.”
Bill’s “piece de resistance” is a simple but effective lighting feature in the upstairs floor where the wood fire chimney was previously.
“I was going to put a pole in there instead so Wendy could do some pole dancing but that idea got chopped,” Bill joked.
Moving to Tasmania from Western Australia, Bill was born in South Africa and often travels back to visit relatives and this is reflected in the home’s decor, as is his Dutch heritage.
Settling in the home for almost 30 years now, the couple hope to live in the home for as long as physically possible.
“The place is unique, you won’t find another one quite like it in Hobart,” Bill said.
“We’ve avoided making it sterile like so many modern homes. It’s more lived in and that’s why we’ve been here for so long.”