Project Matters: Same But Different

“A significant emphasis on the use of natural light and materials to provide refined living for the modern family”

  • The design uses an array of natural materials in a broad, neutral palette to provide a modern yet sympathetic connection to its surroundings
  • Detailed drawings for each planning and engineering element were presented as ‘one requirement per page’
  • A significant native Eucalypt is a key feature of the site, providing balance and framing to the design solution

Same but Different delivers two luxury, spacious townhomes in an evolving coastal village environment. The true success of the double storey multi-residential development by Holman Designs’ lies in its ability to promote a sense of “one integrated home” rather than part of a multi-residential project.

Set in a quiet pocket of Barwon Heads and set back from an urban street with limited infrastructure, the site is within walking distance to local beaches and village center. A significant native Eucalypt frames the front of the property and was retained as a key feature of the site, providing balance, connection to the existing natural environment and framing to the design.

The East to West slope of the block demonstrated a fall of 1.2m over 20m of block width, this in turn impacted the level and straight lines of the design. Due to the width of the block, side setback compliance (including height) was a significant challenge. The lack of infrastructure for drainage meant the design response had further considerations and limitations to allow for drainage response.

To overcome site challenges, a site cut and retaining wall was utilised to mitigate the slope, with fill included in lower lying areas to provide levelling and support the ‘straight’ facade appearance.

The level of the soakage pit as drainage infrastructure was determined first and the design built around this, utilising strategic room placement to ensure design height compliance. The compliant floor plan was then mirrored for the second townhome.

An environmental scan of the surrounding streets was undertaken, examining consistency in built form and materials used in new and existing dwellings. This demonstrated accepted design styles and was fused with client preferences to inform the concept.

Significant consultation was undertaken with the responsible council regarding planning controls and engineering, ensuring the design was compliant with relevant regulations as well as overall response having ‘in principle’ council support.

Detailed drawings for each planning and engineering element were presented as ‘one requirement per page’ while the overshadowing challenges were mitigated by providing detailed shadow diagrams, along with extensive neighbour and council consultation.

The design response utilises an array of natural materials in a broad neutral palette to provide a modern yet sympathetic connection to the surrounding environment. The facade materials tie into their respective end points, the charred timber to the tree canopies and rammed earth to the sandy soil that is characteristic of the area.

The floor plan maximises planning considerations, natural light, available living space while the internal atrium supports energy efficiency for both townhomes, as well as a connection to nature.

Design features reaffirm continuity between indoors and out. The atrium and feature tree brings the spaces to life whilst promoting tranquility and connection to the very environment that draws both visitors and locals to the Barwon Heads community.

When considering characteristics of the Bellarine Peninsula, the rammed earth party wall speaks for itself as the standout feature of the design. The wall stands 6.5m high and imposes a quiet, yet rugged dominance to both the upper and lower levels of the home.

Both levels are connected by the texture and tone of the wall, which provides a feast for the senses with neutrality to suit any interior palette. The muted, sandy tones, pay tribute to the nearby beaches and horizontal lines draw guests on a journey through the home, whilst maintaining connection to the outdoors.

The significant use of natural materials is first and foremost a sustainable design solution. Timber cladding utilised as a design element provides carbon storage, supporting reduced emissions. The rammed earth party wall provides for excellent thermal mass.

The north facing aspects of the main living zone provide for passive solar opportunities. The party wall challenging solar performance has been mitigated by the integration of the internal atrium as a central light well of both townhouses.

‘Same but different’ balances its evolving village surrounds with outstanding attention to natural features characteristic of its Bellarine Peninsula environment.


Designer: Holman Designs Pty Ltd

Builder: Vand Builders

Structural Engineer: AGB Engineering

Soil Testing: Structerre

Building Surveyor: Peninsula Building Surveyors Network

Planning Consultant: Coastal Planning Pty Ltd

Photographer: BWRM


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