A Considered Insertion – Sailors Hill House by Murray Barker
Daylesford, VIC, Australia

Photography Ben Hosking
Architecture Murray Barker
Words Bronwyn Marshall

An intervention within an existing heritage cottage in the regional Victorian town of Daylesford, Sailors Hill House sees the use of beautifully crafted elements to reconfigure internal zoning. Murray Barker combines an historical resonance with an emphasis on craft and placemaking to propose a minimally invasive insertion.

Originally built in 1872, Sailors Hill House is steeped in its own history, which is further enhanced through the new addition and alteration works. In approaching the design, the architects combined a respectful curiosity with the history of the home with an emphasis on placemaking through crafted objects. Within the bounding walls of the original structure, the brief was to create a better utilised interior planning configuration that reflected the way the current owners moved throughout and used the home. Due to the slightness of the space to work within and the want to create a series of intimate internal spaces, the standard approach of inserting full height dividing walls was avoided and custom joinery partitions were used instead. Through the use of these joinery and dividing elements the crafted nature of the construction of the home became the focus.

Murray Barker combines an historical resonance with an emphasis on craft and placemaking to propose a minimally invasive insertion.

At the centre is the original brick fireplace and chimney which becomes a focal dividing element, framed in beautiful timber struts and an exposed framing system.

Employing the carpentry skills of Spence Construction, Murray Barker combined the two existing rooms flanking the original red brick fireplace with an existing extension space to the rear. In connecting each of these spaces as one open zone, the existing floor plate is released, removing its rigid formality. This unified space allows for ease of movement between zones and visual connection through various sightlines around the insertions. The concept allows for a sense of separation between functions, to create moments of cohabitation and also a nod to the handmade feel of the home’s past.

Originally built in 1872, Sailors Hill House is steeped in its own history, which is further enhanced through the new addition and alteration works.

The resulting insertions see the reconfiguration of the plan, carving out a new entry and redefining the internal zones. The connection to the central hall is also better considered, as connection to the external courtyard from the kitchen and dining areas is increased. Through extending the kitchen and the living spaces beyond their previous confining walled zones, there is an encouraged cross-pollination between functions. Bringing each of these elements together is the use extensive use of timber, in particular through the extension of the original timber datum line through to the new spaces. At the centre is the original brick fireplace and chimney which becomes a focal dividing element, framed in beautiful timber struts and an exposed framing system. Throughout, the use of warm brick and timber dominate the space, which is then further enriched by layers of deep earth colours within the kitchen and the painted elements.

Throughout, the use of warm brick and timber dominate the space, which is then further enriched by layers of deep earth colours within the kitchen and the painted elements.

Sailors Hill House sees Murray Barker pay homage to the home’s origins in both palette and form. The resulting approach to reconfiguring the original house brings together a contemporary emphasis on open, connected spaces with a sense of craft that speaks to the home’s past.

At the centre is the original brick fireplace and chimney which becomes a focal dividing element, framed in beautiful timber struts and an exposed framing system.
Published 26 June, 2020
Photography  Ben Hosking
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