Architects: Nervegna Reed Architecture , ph Architects
Design architect: Toby Reed
Location: Victoria, Australia
Project team: Toby Reed, Anna Nervegna and Peter Hogg of PH Architects
Project area: 364 sqm
Photographs: John Gollings
The client, an Art Gallery director, asked for a contemporary home on a narrow inner city allotment. The house was to have two bedrooms plus an extra study that could be used for visiting artists to stay in, and was also to include a private subterranean gallery.
The house extends over 3 levels; the entry is on the middle, ground level, where all the living spaces flow around a courtyard, a sliced circle, a hint of a possible larger courtyard in an expanded field of scattered architectural objects and events. The placement of objects on this level works much like a layout of a pinball machine, with each surface hinting at possible routes that one could take through the house, sometimes encouraging a certain movement, sometimes not. The front study is for visiting artists and has an adjoining bathroom. Downstairs is a basement gallery, indirectly lit from the north front garden via a concrete light shaft / skylight which also doubles as a seat or sculpture podium.
The house works a bit like a Rorschach test, enabling people to read into it what they like, whether it be virtual images of a “?”, or a number “2” in the front facade, or other architectural images throughout the spaces, hidden, like vague reflections. The house in some ways became an experiment in treading the fine line between representational imagery and ‘pure’ abstract form. No matter how abstract our forms may be, the free association of the inhabitants will create new, varied and ever changing meanings and images.