Text description provided by the architects. The site for the Ballarat House is set within a suburban golfing estate on the western fringe of Ballarat. Surrounded largely by an array of ‘off the plan’ project homes, this project seeks to explore the possibilities of these similar constraints whilst offering a conscious and composed architectural contribution.
The project was commissioned by Jeremy’s parents soon after the subdivision had been established, and at this time the site was essentially a vast field. It was free from the surrounding developments, and provided little contextual information by way of significant features, vegetation or buildings. The brief called for a comfortable house for a couple late in their working careers and to also accommodate short stays from their adult children and friends. It was important to create a space where the occupants could enjoy the summer warmth, as well as remaining at ease during the cold Ballarat winters. A low maintenance house with a generous garden space, and to be achieved within quite a modest budget.
The plan was developed to allow a degree of internal flexibility, grouping the living spaces the permanent residents required for daily life toward the rear of the site, taking advantage of the north sun and opening onto the back yard. One first encounters the refined folded steel gutter, and transitions along the entry deck as the project unfolds toward the rear. The wide entry hallway extends through the middle of the plan, lined with timber and pitching in height toward the living spaces. A welcoming and generous gesture given to the modest footprint of the house. The ceiling continues to rake to the north and enhances the humble scale of the entry up into the generous living volume, whilst allowing sunlight deep onto the concrete slab through winter (regularly achieving 25c+ without heating in winter). Large sections of double glazing divided on the structural grid provide the northern enclosure, and the living spaces extend out to a deck, slightly sunken and surrounded by garden creating a private retreat.
The material palette is consciously restrained, cypress cladding extends from the external elevation along the length of the hallway wrapping the garage and utility space and acting as an orientation device. The plywood joinery of the kitchen and living space adds warmth and softness to the burnished slab and blockwork. The interplay of marble and concrete block in the kitchen reflect the durability and refinement of the broader scheme. Externally the robust blockwork on the east and west reflect the internal profile and are extruded past the north and south face of the building, providing depth to these facades. Offset against the heavy blade walls, the roof canopy is simple and refined as it tapers to a point, and allows the folded steel gutter to cut a sharp silhouette against the undulating roof forms of the adjoining buildings.
The timber beams set the discipline of the structural grid, and gently extend to a taper at both ends to externally express themselves and provide continuity and clarity to the simple overall pitch of the project. The Ballarat House seeks to compose itself through the conscious restraint of a few key gestures alongside a refined handling of an otherwise robust palette. It seeks to contribute an optimistic and disciplined possibility for the suburban estate.