A recent alteration and addition to a single-storey Melbourne cottage by Techne Architecture + Interior Design and Doherty Design Studio (DDS) brings light, pragmatism and playfulness to a growing family’s home.

Three years ago, Sandringham House was an ageing weatherboard cottage with a tin roof and two bedrooms—both uninspiring and impractical for a growing family.  Now, the cottage has seen a transformation that adds life with colour, light with passive solar design, and functionality through  contemporary living/dining and bedroom additions.

From the street, the additions are barely noticeable, and if it weren’t for the new asymmetrical black-clad gable peeking above the ridgeline of the existing roof and the bright blue door at the front of the cottage, you’d be forgiven for assuming the building had been left largely untouched since it was built about 100 years ago.

Through the front door and down the original Victorian arch hallway, you’re greeted by a very different picture, one that Techne says references the form of a contemporary shipping container, or a “crate”.

The crate addition at the back of the home includes an open-plan living room, a dining room and kitchen and is orientated from the old cottage east/west to capture northern light. It is clad in white-painted Baltic Pine Weatherboards—a nod to the materiality of the original cottage—and is openable from two of its sides.  

Lysaght Klip-Lok with a standing seam clads the roof and façade of the second-storey gables and is a Colorbond ‘Monument Thermalec’ colour.

A variety of bi-fold and sliding doors, as well as extensive use of double glazed unit windows (all from Capral), wrap the crate and ensure the family can either access or view the garden from all sides of the addition.

Narrowline Series DGUs from Capral control heat transfer between the interior/exterior whilst maintaining a light filled interior.A 6,500L rainwater tank is located underground and is used for garden irrigation and toilet flushing. A new solar hot water system has been installed and provision is made for the future installation of solar photo-voltaic panels  

Inside, Sandringham House has all the trimmings of a contemporary home including stone kitchen benchtops, Select-Grade Messmate timber floors from ECO Timbers and a myriad of modern furniture.  DDS collaborated with Techne for the interior design and together have created an interior focused on injecting colour, life and playfulness to the project.

‘Orange Squash’ coloured carpets from Tretford and a Dulux ‘High Blue’ feature wall dramatically contrast the stark whiteness of the interior walls—adding that playful element—while the timber furniture and floorboards bring warmth to the family-oriented spaces.

Upstairs and into those asymmetrical gable roofs are the new bedroom and bathroom additions that tick the final box for the project brief, a space for the developing family to live.

At Sandringham House, Techne and DDS have shown that with relatively few new materials, an old cottage, that has already served for 100 years, can been rejuvenated and reconfigured for contemporary living and will likely have more than a century of usage into the future. 

Sandringham House has been shortlisted by the Australian Institute of Architects for the 2015 Victorian Architecture Awards.



Fatma Seker

Justin Northrop

Doherty Design Studio

Annabel Drew

Efficiency by Design

Visual Builders

Derek Swalwell


Lysaght Klip-Lok in zincalume standing seam in Colorbond Steel ‘Monument Thermalec’

Spotted gum slats
Baltic Pine Weatherboards

Dulux ‘Natural White’ to ceiling and walls
Resene ‘Triple White Pointer’ to living room ceiling
Dulux ‘High Blue’ to front door

Capral sliding and bifold doors
Capral 425 Narrowline Series Windows in black powder coat

Select-Grade Messmate from ECO Timbers
Supertuft Escape Velour carpet
Tretford carpet in ‘Orange Squash’