True spirit: Mihaly Slocombe Architects renovates a 1970 Australian classic

True spirit: Mihaly Slocombe Architects renovates a 1970 Australian classic

This 1970s classic, located in Olivers Hill (a 50-minute drive south of Melbourne), was virtually untouched when the current owners bought the property five years ago. Designed by eminent Australian architect, the late Kevin Borland, the two-storey, timber-clad build – called Chamfer House – features the architect’s distinctive angular walls.

Elevated above Port Phillip Bay, this house was recently refurbished by Mihaly Slocombe Architects. ’It was virtually intact, with the exception of the swimming pool; rather than being used, it was more of an aquarium for tropical fish,’ says architect Warwick Mihaly, who worked closely on this project with his life and business partner, architect Erica Slocombe.

Unlike most traditional homes, the Olivers Hill house was conceived by Borland as an inverted plan. There was a large studio at ground level and on the first floor, to benefit from the views and natural light, was a kitchen and living area, together with the main bedroom. However, for the new owners, a couple with two teenage children, additional bedrooms and a second living area were required.

Take an interactive tour of Chamfer House, Australia

So what was once a studio, is now three bedrooms, including the main bedroom and ensuite. Two new bedrooms, with a shared bathroom for the children, complete the transformation, with additional timber terraces spilling onto rolling grass. ’We had to "build up" the site to allow these decks to be accessed directly from the bedrooms,’ explains Mihaly.

The architects also reworked the first level, with a new kitchen and bathroom. What was previously the main bedroom, is now a second, informal living area for the children.

However, while new cement wall sheeting and 21st century fittings and fixtures feature in the renovation, the ‘bones’ of Borland’s original vision have been retained. Chunky timber detailing and raked timber ceilings, a hallmark of 1970s architecture, remain in place.

’Borland was a great architect but requirements change. We hope the spirit of his design still remains,’ says Mihaly. 

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