Tony Owen, namesake of Tony Owen Architects has shared with us his firm’s latest project, a pair of townhomes in the in the Sydney suburb of Newtown. Additional images of the residences and a description of their relationship to contemporary urban Japanese architecture after the break.
In this design for 2 town houses in the Sydney inner-city suburb of Newtown, Tony Owen Partners looked for inspiration to the pocket design solutions of Japan. The result; ‘Shibuya – Newtown, is a study of sculptural possibilities on a tight urban sight. The site is located in a dense historic part of Newtown. This area is characterized by close packed 19th century 2-3 story terrace housing stock and industrial workshops. The existing structure is a 2 story masonry vernacular industrial structure. This robust expression is in keeping with the character of the area. The solid utilitarian masonry walls have little adornment. The proposal maintains all of the existing external walls and includes light weight additions. These additions form an attic-like loft space, rear courtyards, garage and studios for 2 dwellings.
An initial solar study was conducted to map the shadowing of the existing building and conditions. This included impact of existing trees. (see studies). Various massing options were explored and shadow studies conducted to measure impact. In the 3-D model a cutting plane was established based on the line formed where no shadow impact occurs. The cutting plane was used to erode (sculpt) the building massing to ensure no impact on surrounding neighbors and this became the design envelope.
The above process resulted in an optimal built form for the site. It was intended that the design maintained the robust utilitarian expression of the existing industrial building whilst maximizing the residential amenity. As a result all of the outdoor spaces are internal to the site. A north-facing courtyard has been inserted into both residences. The living and bedroom spaces are directed to the courtyards, which provide light and outlook. The courtyards have a retractable glass roof at ground level to maximize light and space to the dining areas. The L1 circulation space also has a retractable glass wall to create an additional outdoor terrace, add light and ventilation and to open up the rooms between inside and outside. Breaks in the facade to the lane way allow greater penetration of light and ventilation to the courtyards and break up the massing to the street. The rear portion of roof on L2 contains a grassed green roof.
The angular prism volumes are a direct expression of the solar performance. These walls are made from light weight metal panels and translucent polypropylene, The stark white walls are in contrast to the robust existing industrial facade of the building. The result is a compact urban insertion which, like a sculpture in a gallery stands out and compliments its surroundings. With its compact and opportunistic use of space and stark angular facades, the design pays tribute to the ingenious spatial solutions of inner city Japan.