Dubbed “an extreme marriage of time periods” by Peter Maddison, this Mount Alexander abode is, quite simply, just that
Location: Mount Alexander, Victoria
Date commenced: June 2013
Date completed: May 2015
Cost: $1 million
Meshing the old with the new is difficult to get right, especially when dealing with original structures that are little slices of Harcourt history. But nothing was going to stop Art van Dyk and Troy West from creating a three-storey, one-bedroom brutalist structure that’s as far as you can get from the Ravenswood bed and breakfast they ran and owned for more than 20 years.
Living and working in the same space is not for everyone. While operating Ravenswood Homestead, Art and
Troy often shared their iconic residence with 20 other people, meaning sleeping on the floor was a common occurrence for the hardworking duo. Sensing it was time to move on and start fresh, Art and Troy put the bed and breakfast on the market and bought 28 hectares of a dormant granite quarry at Harcourt, just half an hour away. Interestingly, it is the very same quarry that supplied the stone for Flinders Street Station, resulting in the area being heritage listed and of archaeological significance.“From the revamped cottage, it now accelerates in scale and style at a dizzying pace, from glass to rusted steel right through to the walls of cement sheet”
Due to its national importance, the quarry had to remain untouched, and it took four years of planning, permission from parks, farming and fire departments — and $80,000 — before Troy and Art could move ahead with their vision.
The plan was to build the new house between the two old remnants left behind, one of which was a worker’s cottage. “We have come from a very old Georgian-style home,” says Troy. “Everything here had to be the opposite.” Designed by Art, the concept revolved around designating the old structure as the guest quarters and the new space containing one huge living area and one bedroom on the upper storey. “I can visualise a lot of it, but I think it is going to be learning as we do it — as it is the unknown,” admits Art. By August 2013, the demolition of the 1980s cottage extension was completed and the foundations were laid. As concrete was used to join the new and old structures together, Peter Maddison became concerned about the original structures’ integrity, but was reassured by Art that they were “solidly built” and “as good as it gets”.
As the build progressed, the sale of Ravenswood Homestead fell through, despite a large number of interested parties. “The day of the auction, everyone kept their hands in their pockets and we didn’t get what we wanted to achieve,” says Art. It was then decided Troy would return to the bed and breakfast while Art spent his days on-site at Harcourt, labouring away to cut mounting costs. Thanks to the natural resource just steps away from their build, Troy and Art were able to use their own granite on the lower-ground pillars and in the foyer of the home. Self-rusting Corten steel was also employed, adding to the rustic look of the residence.
“I believe it belongs in this quarry,” says Art.
“I am so excited about it because it looks great with the granite.”
The more Art and Troy embraced their natural surroundings, the more it was integrated into the design of the home, with granite from a neighbouring quarry used to create a unique kitchen benchtop.
The interior of the home is not what one would expect given its industrial exterior. Colour is rampant, with blue and green present in the kitchen, metallic accents dotted throughout the interior and bold patterns injecting the personalities of the owners into the home. “It’s a very grey house on the outside,” says Art. “We needed to bring a lot of colour into it. Everything had to be different. I worked hard all my life and this is the bonus I get at the end of it.”
Impressed by the end result, Peter Maddison sums up the story of Art and Troy and their new home. “What they’ve created is their journey written in architecture — an ensemble that spans 150 years. From the revamped cottage, it now accelerates in scale and style at a dizzying pace, from glass to rusted steel right through to the walls of cement sheet.”
Written by Annabelle Cloros
Photography by Rhiannon Slatter