Understanding Process | Key Design Drivers in Regional Settings


To celebrate the launch of our Regional Satellite Office in Alpine Victoria, the DX Architects team would like to share with you our unique design approach within a larger landscape setting. One of our regional homes in progress, the Yackandandah House, is a prime example of this, and shows how key design ideas have become drivers behind the project, shaping the concept throughout our design process.

Understanding the Context

During the initial stages of our design process, we make an effort to learn about the site and its context in rigorous detail through context research, site visits, aerial mapping and a detailed land survey. Our team of regional architects then partake in a collaborative in-person design meeting with our client to generate a detailed project brief, encompassing all important aspects of the proposal at this early stage.

Through this process we gain a thorough understanding of the site, client and land before we start sketching their regional home. This process will often naturally result in a number of key design drivers which are used throughout the project to shape the overarching design and develop into a cohesive concept for each unique site, as was the case with the Yackandandah House.

Design Drivers to Inform Proposal

Our development of the Yackandandah House is a great example of this process, using key design drivers to create a residential proposal in a relatively open landscape setting. The project brief called for an expansive regional home which sat sympathetically within its landscape context, a moderately sloping grassland with few features aside from a spring fed dam located lower on the site. Along with the detailed project brief, the main design drivers that shaped this project were identified and established early in the process. These included an emphasis on the eastern outlook over the dam and towards sweeping views of the valley, the establishment of zones for flexible use of space throughout the year, all the while, actively engaging with the landscape wherever possible. The building layout, massing and form have all used these key design drivers as the pillar to generate an efficient, open and responsive design which responds to all of our client’s needs.

Plan Layouts and Formic Shifts

The form of the Yackandandah House floor plan was separated into 4 main building masses; the dormitory wing, the living wing, the master retreat, and the garage. These areas were then arranged in a grid and joined by a large linear gallery space which acts as a central spine to the home. This grid like form is defined by oversized masonry blade walls which extend beyond the threshold of the house, extending its structure to visually anchor the dwelling into to the landscape around it. These blades act to rigidly divide both the interior and exterior spaces, subtly defining the boundary between public, private, introverted and extroverted zones.

Arranged according to use, these masses create a hierarchy of space, prioritising the most frequently used zones by giving them the desirable eastern aspect, with a soaring skillion roof projecting upwards and encouraging the eye towards the view. To the rear of the home, the garage and dormitory zones create a private retreat, with the more enclosed spaces on the western win providing a separate entry for the occasional occupants which may reside within the regional home throughout the year.

Connection to Landscape

In order to engage with its rural context, a series of door and windows are carefully aligned throughout the house, providing glimpses of the 360° views beyond the dwelling and into the landscape which surrounds it. These vistas not only provide a visual connection to the landscape, but create efficient paths for natural ventilation and multiple opportunities for egress. Additionally, so as to allow the residents to engage with the outdoors, most rooms have direct external access, prompting the occupants to use these external spaces as extensions of the house itself, blurring the threshold between inside and out.

A Work In Progress

Though not yet complete, the Yackandandah House is just one example of how as regional architects, a rigorous understanding of the site and its natural surroundings can drive a design from conceptualisation through to realisation and refinement. Through the adoption of a carefully crafted research approach during the early stages of design, the client and architect can work together to create an architectural form that not only honours the landscape but also envelops its occupants, allowing them to feel seamlessly connected to and a part of their natural regional surroundings.


Click here to see more of our past projects, both in Melbourne and Regional Victoria