Riversdale Kyneton




Kyneton, Victoria, Australia

Traditional Owners

Dja Dja Wurrung




Dave Kulesza

Riversdale is a cohesive family home that explores the intersecting notions of heritage and sustainability, in the context of a rural landscape.

Established in 1881 as a former gold mine and set against the backdrop of the Malmsbury Reservoir, Riversdale is a heritage listed Victorian cottage with a sympathetic, modern extension. The ambition for the family residence was to create architecture that responded directly to its context and topography, achieved through the application of original site materials. The property has been in the family for six generations and remains a cherished family residence. The owners are deeply appreciative of the spatial and material characteristics of their original home and sought to complement rather than imitate the existing structure.

Contemporary and passive design elements have been carefully balanced with the context of the original home, as the owners look to continue their stewardship of the property for years to come. Set against a rural backdrop of the Malmsbury Reservoir, the client sought to restore and modernise their heritage-listed Victorian cottage, adding a sympathetic extension to form the heart of the home.

The extension was designed to house the cooking, dining, living spaces and guest bedrooms, while keeping the original cottage as the main sleeping quarters. An intimate rumpus room acts as a threshold between dedicated communal spaces and sleeping quarters, not only enhancing cohesion and flow through the home, but a sense of privacy and sanctuary.

The more functional elements of the residence have a strong emphasis on sustainability and environmental best practice. Passive design principles were weaved into the project and developed collaboratively with the client. The extension is orientated specifically to the north to maximise sunlight to the living and dining areas, providing abundant natural light and ventilation, ensuring the addition is thermally efficient all year round.

Substantial insulation was installed throughout to retain warmth through the cooler months, with the hydronic heating soon to function via solar panels. In the summer months, eaves shade the double-glazed windows of the extension, while a rhythm of sashless slot windows defines the southern façade and facilitates effective cross-ventilation.

The preservation of the brick garage, wraparound verandah and double brick cottage façade not only adds to the charm of the property but is also effectively keeps the house cool in summer, without mechanical cooling.

The home pays homage to the original structures and landscape through the reuse of site materials, the interiors are dappled with salvaged bluestone and timber joinery, imparting a warm and authentic aesthetic to the living spaces. Recycled red bricks from site were repurposed into hallway steps and the fireplace hearth in the master bedroom, providing a tactful assimilation of old and new.