A Light-filled Home Lies Behind This Monolithic Facade

In designing this home, Davidov Architects embraced a refined and restrained aesthetic, with raw elements contrasted with period furniture and warm details

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Minimalist in its design and detailing, the SLD Residence in Melbourne’s affluent inner suburb of Toorak was designed by Davidov Architects as a fresh approach to mid-century architecture. 

‘The design cue was almost a response to the mock-Georgian homes that are still being built within the neighbourhood. The design is intended to make subtle references to the scale, proportions and planning of those homes, but in a way that’s able to respond freely to orientation, privacy and function — which the order and style of Georgian architecture cannot do,’ explains Robert Davidov, the director of the architecture firm. 

Ensuring a sense of privacy away from the road was crucial, and so the main entrance to this two-storey property is located on the side of the house rather than the front. An external walkway leads guests from the street to the front door on the recessed lower level. The side location also maximises the amount of natural light into the home, and an external light shaft allows light to flow into the double height foyer.

The home adopts a distinctly pared back and refined aesthetic. ‘The intention was to form space and frame activities with minimal fuss and ornament. With our work there’s always a determination to heighten particular experiences and add contrast between daytime and evening events. This is best played out in bathrooms and meals areas, which have a focus on natural lighting and very different and specific artificial lighting at night,’ Davidov says. 

This is emphasised with the use of raw elements and sparse detailing throughout the home. Unembellished slabs of monochromatic marble feature in the bar, bathroom vanities and plinths, and brushed stainless-steel is used in the staircase lighting and pendant suspended above the kitchen island. In contrast to these cooler elements and materials, a sense of warmth comes via the smoked European oak floorboards, and the material’s repetition in key internal doors and panelling. Niches and walls were built specifically to house the clients period furniture and a vintage 1970s dining setting, all characterful additions to the contemporary setting. 

Wanting to draw the interiors outward and encourage a natural patina, the design team used similar materials for both the exterior and interiors. The natural cement render used for the facade is echoed internally in a textural Venetian plaster finish. Sliding doors open onto the two main exterior spaces, and honed granite flooring appears throughout the home.  

Text / Babette Radclyffe-Thomas 
Images / Veeral Patel
Styling / Swee Lim

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