Chamfer House involved the alteration of a 1977-built, Kevin Borland-designed post and beam dwelling at Olivers Hill in Frankston, Victoria. The home owners engaged Melbourne practice, Mihaly Slocombe for the project, seeking an update to its living arrangements in line with the needs of their young family. The result is a sensitive yet thorough intervention, whereby Borland’s design has been reconfigured and modernised, without sacrifice to its core personality and philosophical intention.
The original dwelling followed a traditional single-storey living and sleeping arrangement, and was based on a rational 5x5 metre grid. A large studio took up the entire ground floor while a kitchen, living and a main bedroom were spread across level one. Mihaly Slocombe inverted and extended this arrangement. Three bedrooms and two bathrooms replace the studio downstairs, while an enlarged kitchen and living space take up level one. Corners of the original square grid have been trimmed (chamfered) in some parts and extended in others to create new pockets of space.
The triangle is a motif that informs the design of Chamfer House on both a macro scale—as seen on the reconfigured plan—and a micro scale—through the shaping of windows, walls, ceiling tiles, furniture and custom door handles. It was a device used regularly by Borland but was developed into the three-dimensional chamfer by Mihaly Slocombe. The faceted balcony soffit at the master bedroom is the most obvious example of the chamfer, but as you move throughout and around the house you can see its application in several locations, mostly at thresholds or against internal walls.
“Chamfer House is unlike any of our other work. It is powerfully and thoroughly influenced by Borland’s design. We feel proud that we’ve done justice to such a wonderful example of the master’s architecture.” – Mihaly Slocombe
The chamfer soffit was formed by battening out from the existing balcony and is angled to frame views from the master bedroom down Oliver’s Hill towards Port Phillip Bay. It is lined with a screw-fixed fibre cement sheeting called Barestone from CSR Cemintel which was also employed by Mihaly Slocombe elsewhere on the project. The master bedroom and adjacent en-suite façades are almost entirely glazed and comprise a series of custom and irregular Victorian Ash windows from Quantum which fit in and around the valleys of the soffit. A built-in interior pelmet provides sun protection and appears hidden thanks to Mihaly Slocombe detailing. The architects carried the ceiling lining boards down onto the pelmet and continued the interior wall lining up into the reveal. The reveal width and thicknesses matches the other beams within the room and, by casting a shadow, also appears to be the same colour.
While much of the original text-book post and beam design has been retained and celebrated, it has also been reigned in and suitable adapted. The exposed Oregon beams and finger jointed window frames are as much a feature of Chamfer House now as they were pre-renovation, but the timber posts have been either painted, removed or hidden within new wall cavities and window jambs. The house still adheres strictly to the original 5x5 metre grid, but trimming and extending the corners have changed its geometry.
“Revisiting the house since our clients moved back in has revealed to us how well the house now merges with their lifestyle…It was immensely rewarding to see how well the house supported their daily activities.”
Insulation, upgraded windows, ceiling fans, low energy light fittings and a solar array have also been added to the home, as has a new contemporary kitchen, bathroom and swimming pool. This represents the intention of Mihaly Slocombe to both apply and adapt Borland’s approach to architecture to a world where living arrangements, environmental awareness, building materials and construction methods have changed.
Since construction finished, the local council have conducted a survey of mid- century modernist houses in the area. Their heritage advisors have concluded that Mihaly Slocombe were successful in sensitively renovating Kevin Borland’s original, and have recommended Chamfer House receive unique protection.
CDK STONE AUSTRALIA, HONED BLUESTONE TILED (FINISHED WITH LITHOFIN, MN STAIN STOP CLEAR SEAL)
GODFREY HIRST AUSTRALIA, HYCRAFT CARRAMAR 4M CARPET (FINISHED WITH PEAT)
NULLABOR SUSTAINABLE TIMBER, SPOTTED GUM TIMBER DECKING (FINISHED WITH HAYMES PAINT, DECKING OIL (CLEAR))
CEDAR SHIPLAPPED TIMBER (FINISHED WITH HAYMES PAINT, DECKING OIL (CLEAR))
PLASTERBOARD (FINISHED WITH PAINT FINISH (WHITE))
NATIONAL TILES, PRESSED EDGE TILES CERAMIC (WHITE)
CSR CEMINTEL, BARESTONE COMPRESSED CELLULOSE REINFORCED SHEET
RADIAL TIMBER SALES, SILVERTOP ASH SHIPLAPPED TIMBER (FINISHED WITH CLEAR SEAL)
QUANTUM, VICTORIAN ASH TIMBER FRAMES QUANTUM SEAL (TRANSLUCENT BLACK)
VIRIDIAN NEW WORLD GLASS, THERMOTECH DOUBLE GLAZING WITH ENERGYTECH LOW-E FILM