The Trojan House / Jackson Clements Burrows Architects

© Emma Cross

Architects: Jackson Clements Burrows Pty. Ltd.
Location: Howthorn, Melbourne,
Project Team: Tim Jackson, Joachim Quino Holland
Builder: Central Home Constructions Pty. Ltd.
Structural Engineer: Adams Consulting Engineers.
Landscape: Adlib Design
Clients: Georgie Pettigrew and David McCombe
Project Year: 2009
Photographs: Emma Cross

This alterations and additions project addresses a briefing requirement of providing space for a young growing family with 3 children under the age of 10.

The initial idea was to challenge the conventional ‘box on the back’ type addition with a sculptural form born of site restraints; such as the ResCode setbacks along the south boundary; the ideal internal programmatic arrangement, the desire to maintain as much back yard as possible and inspired by the rooftop topography of hips and valleys of the existing Edwardian house. Three kids bedrooms and a bathroom were placed cantilevering above the garden, above a large living space below. This programme was then wrapped in a seamless timber skin, covering roof, windows and walls.

© Emma Cross

This idea of skin is carried through to the detailing of operable timber shutters that are scattered across the façade where openings are required.

The notion of the Trojan house is reflected in the idea of an enveloping skin, a built form which contains the unexpected; where windows are disguised with shutters, and where the internal program is unknown. Internally this program is extrapolated to fit the container with kids bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs and living spaces downstairs. Again an unexpected gesture, when children are not isolated in bedrooms but made to feel part of the greater internal space. A communication void that doubles as a thermal chimney allows for conversation between upstairs and the living spaces below. Visual connections can be made between the levels via the circular windows scattered along the corridor, bathroom and one of the upstairs bedrooms.

section 01

The rain screen solution optimises a passive thermal response by shading the house in summer and partially insulating the house in winter by enabling a warmer air gap between inside and outside.

At first floor level a breezeway corridor and thermal chimney void enable cross ventilation to all bedrooms as well as drawing warm air up and out of the living spaces below during summer.

© Emma Cross

On site water collection has been considered for pool restoration and garden use with 11,000L of water storage available. A grey water system has also been provided to irrigate the garden as part of the sustainability solution.

The construction technique for the addition involves a cost efficient waterproof fibre cement cladding system with timber battens and rainscreen over. The large cantilever is achieved through the construction of two large steel trusses which are embedded in the walls.

Existing House

The existing house incorporates a reworked master bedroom/ensuite configuration and other minor cosmetic/maintenance works.

In summary this project is about a house that engages with childhood in a playful way, that reconciles the programmatic requirements of a growing family with an unexpected sculptural response: a Trojan house.

Cite: "The Trojan House / Jackson Clements Burrows Architects" 26 Feb 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 30 May 2015. <>
  • jg

    this is a nice house….too bad the text (and above all the forceful and incredibly flawed wanting to explain a normal and standard house as a reversal of the set standards) left a little knot in my stomach….
    why would putting kids in the upper stories of a building be “an unexpected gesture” and why being on a second floor would make them feel a more part of the internal space than being on the ground floor???

    Such a control in the making of this little house and such an overblown and reckless rethoric in the text.

    And the name…we dont need vain metaphors,,,odysseus is laughing in his grave…..

    …but i like it, is nice!!!!

  • cad

    Great, now do the same to the front.

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  • RGoldschmidt

    Cad, why do you think about the name of the house, or, you don’t know about Troia legend. And for anybody else, what wood is used for this house?

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  • Camilo Alzate

    Me gusta realmente el trabajo que hicieron con esta casa.

    No me llamó la atención hasta que vi que era una adecuación de lo existente.

  • Andrew

    A better name would be “testosterone house”
    I feel sorry for the neighbors, this is not a sensitive addition.

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  • loosman

    the architects are clearly very proud of their cantilever. yawn. This is an example of perverse zombie modernism – the result of architects who snort self gratification like coke.
    This work denies the broader needs of society, neighbourhood and city, and is evidence that a culture has lost its sight….

    • Andrew

      Well said loosman. When will the this trend change?

    • ygogolak

      I fail to see how an addition to the rear of a house “denies the needs of a broader society”. Sounds like you yourself have “snort self gratification like coke”.
      I guess any person or family has a need for more space is subject to fixing all of the problems of the world.

  • Michael

    It appears someone forgot that people will live in this.
    Look at the interior.
    There are just a few scraps of designer furniture floating in space. It’s hardly the kind of place you’d want to sit in for extended periods of time.
    A lot of effort has gone into how this addition will photograph from the outside, but it looks like designing a liveable interior was secondary.

  • Amanda

    Very typical of a Victorian Architect. Commercial ideas adapted (or not) to a residence. Very sterile and lacks life. Disappointing also for Hawthorn ‘Howthorn’ with it being such a beautiful area. The front is amazing.

  • loosman

    ygogolak – look up from your iphone.
    A key to sustaining density and growth is in managing the settings of our cities, in this case, the field of suburbia.
    Land occupation is custodial, not rightful ownership.
    Architects and their clients should stop building self-indulgent object buildings for themselves only, at the expense of the neighbourhood setting, collective natural resources, significant native vegetation, biodiversity, cultural heritage and beauty, all of which are actually of more interest to society than an inappropriate dcm rip-off…..

    • ygogolak

      look up from my i-phone? what are you talking about? you know they put those google maps on here for a reason. why don’t you take a look at the aerial and get back to me.
      “self-indulgent object buildings for themselves only, at the expense of the neighbourhood setting..”
      1. the addition is in the rear of the house and is not subject to the public perception of the neighborhood
      2. if something is done badly or wrong before we are supposed to accept that and design to that standard?

      again, this is a private residence, people are allowed to do what they want to their house

      • njg

        Do agree with ygogolak we do not all view neighbourhoods from google earth the greater portion of the public will simply view this from street level whilst walking their dog. Perhaps they forgot to introduce a colorbond shed to adhere to this so called ‘neighbourhood setting’ of melbourne suburbia. That should keep the neighbours happy.

  • pufftank

    16 photos of the same boring cantilever… yawn. understand the what and how, but why…

    • wicked10

      because the green space in the backyard is essential. the architects knew this and tried to occupy as little space as posible from the backyard (a green space in wich the children will play) and the only logical way to do this having in thought they needed a certain amount of space was simply tu put the house over the backyard.

  • word

    somebody went a little overboard using distortion to make the cantilever and spaces look much different spatially than they really are…

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  • canti

    design is awesome bt photography could have been a bit better….
    n could u plz mail me d details f making this much f cantilever i just hav a fascination about cantilevered structures…

  • Red

    I like it. The name and cantilever are justified, but interior furniture is bad. Too much pictures…