A Nod to Industry – HMAS L02 by Rachcoff Vella
Reconsidering the traditional heritage renovation and extension, HMAS L02 is conceived through an alternate lens, taking heeded influence from its industrial context. Rachcoff Vella taps into the historical lineage of the area, reinterpreting its industrial past in the architectural response.
Located in Williamstown, south-west of Melbourne, the nearby shipyards have been the birthplace of many a vessel since the yards were established, helping shape the need for residences in the area. Despite the original home’s heritage timber shiplap frontage and quaint Victorian-era detailing, its location within this highly industrious area called for an alternate approach. Rachcoff Vella combines a historical sensitivity to the existing cottage with modern sensibilities. Taking inspiration from this continued lineage of industry, the extension and renovation works of HMAS L02 are the result of this contextually influenced approach. Instead of looking to precedent architectural responses, the reference is closer to home, found in the ships themselves and the tilting and subtle cranking of the overall form.
Instead of looking to precedent architectural responses, the reference is closer to home, found in the ships themselves and the tilting and subtle cranking of the overall form.
Built by Whelan Master Builders and with landscapes by Paul Pritchard Landscapes, the connected home takes on a holistic approach, encompassing and addressing the whole site. The central courtyard acts as a key feature – it signals the shift from the existing to the new, while also being a breathing element that brings much needed natural light deep into the home. Its openness also ensures access to natural ventilation and a visual connection, carving it out as a destination in itself. The new addition then takes formal influence from the HMAS Canberra (that was being built nearby while the design as taking place),where the resulting slanted and skewed form guides the resulting eaves element on site.
Instead of preserving the original formal planning of the retained front portion of the home, the existing three bedrooms are opened up and connected. In their place, a large master bedroom suite then takes form, and through a preservation and reinstating of key heritage cornicing and plaster details, new insertions and joinery are kept minimal and treated more as furniture than built-in elements, ensuring a balance is created between old and new. The overall palette mixes monochrome tones, with warming timber used throughout to bring everything together and reference the original flooring.
The solution to expanding HMAS L02 and injecting a contemporary relevance came from looking locally and reinterpreting a response to context, instead of looking to the original stylings of the home. As a result, Rachcoff Vell has created a unique home that captures the essence of the home’s past and unites it with a contemporary relevance.