A 1960s Melbourne Warehouse Is Upcycled and Transformed Into an Energy-Efficient Family Home

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By Jennifer Baum Lagdameo / Published by Dwell
A family's dream of living in a converted warehouse becomes a reality when Zen Architects successfully transforms a leaky warehouse from the 1960s into a bright and airy family home—without compromising on comfort or energy efficiency.

Inspired by the spirit of upcycling, Zen Architects was able to retain and reuse as much of the existing 2,583-square-foot warehouse as possible while converting the structure into a contemporary, 6.1 star energy-rated family home. 

A 1960s Melbourne Warehouse Is Upcycled and Transformed Into an Energy-Efficient Family Home - Photo 1 of 11 - In addition to the retention of the building's envelope, many original elements were reworked and reused throughout the renovation. 

In addition to the retention of the building's envelope, many original elements were reworked and reused throughout the renovation. 

Mezzanine-level rooms float within the original volume of the warehouse, while a new raised deck links the living areas to the courtyard—inserting a garden into the existing interior space and providing the home with a generous amount of light and heat during the winter months. The feeling of space and openness has been enhanced by carefully placed internal and external glazing, providing views in multiple directions. Cross-ventilation—a feature usually lacking in a traditional warehouse space—is achieved through automated high-level louvers. 

The result is a warm and livable family home that can comfortably be enjoyed for years to come. 

A 1960s Melbourne Warehouse Is Upcycled and Transformed Into an Energy-Efficient Family Home - Photo 2 of 11 - The idea of retaining and reusing materials and structures guided the conversion's design and was applied to all aspects of the project.

The idea of retaining and reusing materials and structures guided the conversion's design and was applied to all aspects of the project.


A 1960s Melbourne Warehouse Is Upcycled and Transformed Into an Energy-Efficient Family Home - Photo 3 of 11 - The open kitchen features custom cabinetry and a recycled timber island. 

The open kitchen features custom cabinetry and a recycled timber island. 


A 1960s Melbourne Warehouse Is Upcycled and Transformed Into an Energy-Efficient Family Home - Photo 4 of 11 - Mezzanine-level rooms float within the original volume of the warehouse. The existing floor slab was also preserved, partially due to restricted site access, but also for its inherent character.

Mezzanine-level rooms float within the original volume of the warehouse. The existing floor slab was also preserved, partially due to restricted site access, but also for its inherent character.


A 1960s Melbourne Warehouse Is Upcycled and Transformed Into an Energy-Efficient Family Home - Photo 5 of 11 - New bedrooms and en suite bathrooms are nestled into the roof volume between the existing<br>trusses by way of plywood-clad pods.

New bedrooms and en suite bathrooms are nestled into the roof volume between the existing
trusses by way of plywood-clad pods.


A 1960s Melbourne Warehouse Is Upcycled and Transformed Into an Energy-Efficient Family Home - Photo 6 of 11 - This little bedroom in a plywood pod looks out to the roof-deck and features angled ceilings and strategic lighting that's hidden above a shelving unit.

This little bedroom in a plywood pod looks out to the roof-deck and features angled ceilings and strategic lighting that's hidden above a shelving unit.


A 1960s Melbourne Warehouse Is Upcycled and Transformed Into an Energy-Efficient Family Home - Photo 7 of 11 - The feeling of space and openness is enhanced by carefully placed internal and external glazing, allowing for views in multiple directions.

The feeling of space and openness is enhanced by carefully placed internal and external glazing, allowing for views in multiple directions.


A 1960s Melbourne Warehouse Is Upcycled and Transformed Into an Energy-Efficient Family Home - Photo 8 of 11 - Custom cabinetry lines the dining area, which is defined by a large wood dining table and colorful glass pendant lights.

Custom cabinetry lines the dining area, which is defined by a large wood dining table and colorful glass pendant lights.


A 1960s Melbourne Warehouse Is Upcycled and Transformed Into an Energy-Efficient Family Home - Photo 9 of 11 - The addition of a north-facing courtyard provides the home with a generous amount of light and heat in winter, while cross-ventilation is achieved through new high-level louvers.&nbsp;

The addition of a north-facing courtyard provides the home with a generous amount of light and heat in winter, while cross-ventilation is achieved through new high-level louvers. 


A 1960s Melbourne Warehouse Is Upcycled and Transformed Into an Energy-Efficient Family Home - Photo 10 of 11 - To overcome the waterproofing issues that come with having an internal courtyard, a hob was created around the perimeter and a new slab was constructed that drains water out to a central storm-water pit. The raised hob and slab are disguised by a new recycled timber deck that straddles the interior and exterior spaces, blurring the transition between the indoor and outdoor areas. Movable planter boxes made out of Cor-Ten steel were introduced to create a garden.&nbsp;

To overcome the waterproofing issues that come with having an internal courtyard, a hob was created around the perimeter and a new slab was constructed that drains water out to a central storm-water pit. The raised hob and slab are disguised by a new recycled timber deck that straddles the interior and exterior spaces, blurring the transition between the indoor and outdoor areas. Movable planter boxes made out of Cor-Ten steel were introduced to create a garden. 


A 1960s Melbourne Warehouse Is Upcycled and Transformed Into an Energy-Efficient Family Home - Photo 11 of 11 - The home's roof-deck offers stunning views of the Australian city.&nbsp;

The home's roof-deck offers stunning views of the Australian city. 

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