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    Waltham Jewel by Melbourne Design Studios

    31 Waltham St Richmond 3121

    A derelict, unused heritage structure in Richmond, Victoria has been transformed into a sustainable dwelling and home office by Melbourne Design Studios, but it could have just as easily been a very different story.

    MDS and client did not give in to the standard development expectations for the site, which sits within a medium density infill area, but instead sought a commercially-viable and sustainable alternative that would complement the heritage of the site.

    So instead of demolishing the existing building and erecting a brand new shiny apartment block, MDS went about upgrading it, and in turn brought it up to market expectations for the neighbourhood.  

    Windows were replaced and rearranged, living areas reorientated north and sustainable water, lighting, fireplaces, cooling, insulation, solar and electricity upgrades were added. But while a lot of ESD initiatives were applied to the project, the architects say their favourite alteration is the central staircase structure which has been used in multiple ways. 

    Design-wise, it works as a 'room-divider', adding a bit of 'cozyness' to the family living by separating it from the kitchen/dining area, while at the same time remaining the generous open plan feel.

    Its efficient planning allows for a walk-in pantry (on the kitchen side), storage area and a recessed biofuel fireplace (on the living room side), all underneath the stairs.

    “By utilising this otherwise 'dead' space below the staircase in such an efficient manner, it allows to minimise the overall footprint of the building,” says MDS. 

    KEY INITIATIVES

    • Re-use of abandoned structure rather than demolition, as part of a medium density infill development
    • Re-modelled layout based on passive solar design, with the core of the house being arranged around a northern courtyard, to maximise solar heat gains.
    • The new black concrete floor at the rear stores the (solar) heat and distributes it evenly.
    • North-facing living area, recessed under upstairs cantilever that provides passive shade to bi-fold wall
    • Central staircase leads to extended landing at top to form an indoor/outdoor room with a fully retractable facade for thermal chimney stack effect
    • This 'wintergarden' area doubles as an upstairs retreat living room while giving access to the two main bedrooms
    • North-facing main bedrooms, with services areas along the south side of the new-built addition
    • High performance windows
    • Double glazed skylight to kitchen and bathrooms, also to maximise use of natural daylight and minimise use of artificial lighting, and to set 'dramatic scenes' in bathroom and kitchen
    • Solar hot water system
    • Water tank with raised garden bed over, concealed into garden structures. This feeds toilet, laundry and irrigation, and is concealed within a timber clad structure that forms a visual continuation of the built-in garden seats.
    • In addition to extra high insulation, a lightweight EIFS render system has been added to south wall of existing house and to all new-built walls, to maximise potential insulation
    • Sealing off existing chimneys and installation of sustainable biofuel inserts into old fireplaces instead
    • Bamboo ceiling fans to family living and main bedrooms
    • Concealed/recessed cavity sliding doors between functional parts of the house, to assist with dedicated/zoned heating/cooling
    • Vertical garden to improve micro-climate and inner-urban air quality, while acting as visually stimulating backdrop

    PRODUCTS

    AUSTRALIAN HARDWOOD DECKING & FLOORS
    BORAL, SPOTTED GUM

    CARPORT CLADDING
    BRITTON TIMBERS, IRONBARK

    CARPETS
    EC CARPETS, 100% NATURAL WOOL CARPETS B

    WINDOWS
    ALUMINCO, DOUBLE-GLAZED (WITH LOW E-COAT) THERMALLY BROKEN ALUMINIUM WINDOWS

    INSULATED PLASTERBOARD
    KINGSPAN INSULATED PANELS, COOLTHERM

    VENEERS
    BRIGGS VENEERS, ECO CERTIFIED VENEERS

    BATHROOM BENCHTOPS
    DUPONT, CORIAN

    WATERTANK
    LANDSCAPE WATERTANKS

    FIREPLACE
    ECOSMART FIRE

    SOLAR HW SYSTEM WITH BOOSTER
    RINNAI AUSTRALIA

    NATURAL STONE
    ATTILA STONE MELBOURNE, ASENA MARBLE TO KITCHEN

    BAMBOO CEILING FANS
    BIG ASS FANS, HAIKU

    Key Info

    Designer: Melbourne Design Studios
    Cost: $3,300sqm
    Photography: Peter Clarke Photography

    Professionals

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