A Labour of Love – Ancona by Steve Domoney Architecture
Ancona Valley, VIC, Australia
A ten-year labour of love, Ancona is the home of owner/builder Steve Domoney, of Steve Domoney Architecture, and his wife, Lek. The dream of the country escape inspired the architectural response to this rural setting amidst rolling pastures.
Purchased as a quite literal blank canvas some ten years prior, Steve Domoney together with his wife, Lek, saw potential in this uniquely rural setting. Located in the Ancona Valley (from which the project takes its name) in Victoria’s high country, the home takes shape as four main pavilion structures, where cross-functionality, combining passive and active elements, creates living, sleeping, bathing and entertaining zones.
The home takes shape as four main pavilion structures.
As owner and builder, Steve and Lek employed the services of project manager Robert Henry to assist with managing the process and consultants as required. Key to the cohesion of each pavilion is its link to the site, through both visual cues and the landscape masterplan that connects them. Garden designer Paul Bangay was engaged early in the process to provide a masterplan for the site, one that responded to the rural setting, and to guide the formality of all the elements working together. Over the course of the build, both Steve and Lek planted the landscape in its entirety, and the resulting richness and diversity of living elements softens the transition between the built and rural components.
Key to the cohesion of each pavilion is its link to the site.
The home is set at 450 metres above sea level, resulting in cooler winter and warmer summer climatic conditions than average for the area, which needed to be considered in the design. The setting sees sheep and cattle graze the rich pastures, rolling kills and rover flats, flanked by the surrounding mountain ranges. Ultimately, Ancona is designed as a place to retreat and disconnect, one where the architectural gesture on the land is secondary to its purpose. It is a place of resetting a pace, of replenishment and reinvigoration from the urban setting.
It is a place of resetting a pace, of replenishment and reinvigoration from the urban setting.
In essence, ideals of simplicity and the rural setting itself form the inspiration behind the design, materiality and resulting form for Ancona. Comprised of four main pavilions for living, dining, kitchen, sleeping and a studio, the original structure of the hayshed is retained and buried within its walls. Dotted across the property are utilitarian shed type arrangements and a barn, and the varying scales on the site emphasise a considered hierarchy for use. The materiality also takes heed from its location, seeing natural stone, galvanised iron and rough sawn recycled timbers used throughout. Internally, the use of timber and stone adds a warmth, but also aims to express the rural setting, and a connection to land and the origins of the materials themselves.
As a reflection of their shared values, and of a yearning for a simpler time, Ancona is the result of a long labour of love for its owners. Steve Domoney Architecture has brought a simplified sensibility to a beautifully untouched rural setting and created a comfortable and aspirational place to lay one’s wearied feet.