LocationFitzroy North, Australia
BuilderZachary Spark Constructions
FurnitureRoss Gardam, Earl Pinto
Text description provided by the architects. Melbourne’s inner-north has a distinct European feel of community living. Small houses compel people towards local parks and curbside gardens, blurring the threshold between public and private. The Engawa House in North Fitzroy, embraces this atmosphere, as the dynamic and historical patchwork of the surrounding context becomes part of each living space.
The clients, a family of four, described a space offering them a feeling of discovery, through a variety of intersecting planes, and the layering of natural light. They required a relocated central bathroom, kitchen, dining, living, additional bedroom with ensuite, as well as a mezzanine office and external entertaining area.
A full facing northern wing, mixing a combination of single and double storey forms, attaches itself to the front rooms of the existing house. The simple orientation takes advantage of the full range of views from the mezzanine, whilst being sympathetic to it's elevational context. The living, dining and bedroom/ensuite skirt a large and long courtyard garden, maximizing sustainable performance, and offering northern light into each new program.
This design was structured around the concept of “Engawa”, referring to an exterior hallway on the side of a traditional Japanese dwelling. This space, offers a transition between the yielding comfort of the grassed courtyard, and the polished concrete floor of the interior. It also offers a transitional space for informal seating.
The open living and mezzanine enhance a visual and auditory connection, with a distinct lack of privacy, embracing the family’s already strong connection.
Rather than competing with the streetscape, BLOXAS utilised council restrictions to invite exploration yet maintain integrity. The striking black form signposts the street corner and it's palette of styles.
The Engawa House interplays scale and height, contributing to the elevational rhythm of the red factory brick work, single storey weatherboard terraces and the multi-storey residential context.
Large timber windows to the southern boundary invite the engagement between neighbouring residents and the clients of the Engawa House.
Underpinning the projects conceptual idea was a very tight budget. The addition provides a smaller overall footprint than the previous plan, now maximising the site’s potential. The black stained plywood exterior of the facade will age sympathetically with the warehouses surrounding it, offering a unique composition against the retained brickwork fireplace. This facilitated a high quality interior where the client desired a more minimal and refined finish.