De­sign note­book

Q&A with Tim Dor­ring­ton of Dor­ring­ton Atch­e­son Ar­chi­tects

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What were the main chal­lenges you faced build­ing in the heart of sub­ur­bia?

Mak­ing sure the con­cept was com­pli­ant with the plan­ning con­trols. These were fairly oner­ous due to the slope of the site and the po­si­tion of some of the re­tain­ing walls meant our height-to-bound­ary planes had to be taken from fairly low.

The first ver­sion of this home was scrapped be­cause of bud­getary is­sues. How did that in­form the se­cond and cur­rent de­sign?

We col­lab­o­rated with the con­trac­tors, out­lin­ing spa­tial pa­ram­e­ters and a bud­get of area for earth­works, re­tain­ing and deck­ing. This gave us some ‘rules’ to fit within and it worked out re­ally well. From this point, un­til sign­ing a con­tract, there was very lit­tle move­ment in the bud­get. The process with our clients the first time around gave us a head-start for the se­cond time as we had al­ready cov­ered off a lot of likes and dis­likes.

The kitchen was in­spired by one in a Case Study home. Which el­e­ments echo this?

There’s a fa­mous Pierre Koenig house in the Hol­ly­wood Hills that fea­tures a kitchen pod sit­ting in the mid­dle of the main lounge. We all liked this, in that it sep­a­rated and de­fined space around it, but also con­tained the kitchen in a more retro idea in that it’s not all open to the space, al­though it does pro­vide for pass through. Then we got cre­ative with ma­te­ri­al­ity and colour.

You say it was the most ‘dif­fer­ent’ house you’ve ever de­signed. How so?

There are some dif­fer­ent con­struc­tion method­olo­gies such as the tilt slab con­crete, but the main dif­fer­ence was the col­lab­o­ra­tive ap­proach taken with the con­trac­tors with an aim to en­sure we re­flected the bud­get. We’ve since adopted this ap­proach for all projects. Sec­ondly, we let the height to bound­aries help with the plan­ning of the house, rather than limit the de­sign. We didn’t want to have cor­ners cut off to suit height to bound­ary etcetera, but we did let these plan­ning re­stric­tions in­form the lev­els and wall an­gles. This en­abled us to max­imise the al­low­able build­ing en­ve­lope.

Sam Atch­e­son was very in­volved with the project. How did you share roles?

I came up with the con­cept de­sign for the house to work within the pa­ram­e­ters, we col­lec­tively worked on the other de­sign and draw­ing stages, and then Sam man­aged the con­struc­tion phase of the project.

1. En­try 2. Bathroom 3. Bed­room 4. Study 5. Hall 6. Din­ing 7. Liv­ing 8. Kitchen 9. Snug 10. Garage 3 3 9 8 5 1 7 2 4 6 3 First floor

Far right Look­ing through the study to the main bed­room, where the ceil­ing is lined in Ga­boon ply­wood. The art­work on the study wall is ‘Be­ing There’ by Tina Frantzen.

Right The en suite has a black Ser­a­tone wall, which meets a con­crete wall in the cor­ner. The cus­tom cab­i­netry is black HP lam­i­nate.

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