“The brief was simple, but inherently problematic,” explain Austin Maynard Architects. Located in bushland near the ocean was Kate and Grant’s beautiful shack which they loved and valued greatly. They asked: “How could we add a clear and elevated view of the ocean without demolishing, damaging or dominating our beloved shack?” There are too many beautiful old shacks being demolished, and Austin Maynard wouldn’t be part of it.

Dorman House is a finely crafted timber box, independently constructed to hover over an existing beach shack in Lorne, Victoria. In contrast to the neighbours, it has been designed to weather, to go grey, to age, and sink back into the landscape, back into the bush.

The elevated extension sits on top of a heavy timber structure and comprises a kitchen, dining and living room, accessed via a spiral staircase. Polycarbonate was used as a lightweight cladding to infill the structure below, creating a useable space without adding mass that would dominate the original property. The new living space does not protrude forward over the ridge-line of the old house and avoids dominating the original shack unnecessarily. Whilst the old kitchen was transformed into a second bathroom and laundry, the original beach shack remains mostly unchanged. It was tidied up and repainted, so that the charm and character of the post war structure was retained.

“In all, the most sustainable factor of this project is that existing shack was retained. It is irrelevant how sustainable you make a new house if you knock down an existing structure. Even if you have a 9 star home, the carbon debt in the demolished house takes many decades to repay,” share the architects.


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