Text description provided by the architects. What began as a small alterations and additions to accommodate a young family of 5, soon became a knock-down and rebuild after the site and house were deemed unsound due to extensive, undocumented mines subsidence below the property. This circumstance gave the opportunity to undertake a more rigorous approach to the original brief; promoting a greater connection between the internal spaces, varied outdoor living spaces and the garden.
The previous single storey house and unsympathetic additions consumed a majority of the site which restricted play for children. The small, 55m2 footprint of the new dwelling responds to the modest budget by prioritising the living area’s connection through large openings onto landscape, outdoor ‘rooms’ and gardens, and stripping back superfluous enclosures like garages.
This further promotes and maintains the surrounding green leafy suburb and provided opportunities for convivial connections to the street in preference to walled boundaries. The site's irregular outline compresses the garden at the building's corners, providing varied and connected planting areas for children and animals to move between over the course of the day – chasing light and shelter. As they establish over time, the gardens will reveal hidden paths and are designed for lush leafy consumption of the building.
Living areas hold a north-eastern outlook to landscaped areas and the street, while service areas with minimal glazing protect the south-west from harsh summer afternoons. The shallow footprint generates good solar access to all areas the house and effective cross-flow ventilation. Deep shade on the ground floor created by large overhangs and established street trees maintains a cool zone even during the hottest of Australian summer days.
The upper floor affords privacy to the sleeping areas, while a glimpse of the raked ceiling and fanlights over doors from the garden maintains a dialogue between family members wherever they may be in the house. The crossed orientation of the ground and first floors provides opportunities to arrange volumes that compress and open to define thresholds and spaces. Changes in level also guide you through the house; the site, environment and changing textures of the garden become a fundamental part of the inhabitants’ daily experience.
The materiality approach was to be robust, honest and modest, creating a visual whole and subdue the architecture against the vibrancy of the growing landscape. This was achieved by developing a predominantly grey palette of un-painted fibre-cement sheet; galvanised steel sheet; chain-link fencing; concrete; unpainted LVLs and timber battens. This provided a cost effective, practical, textural and hardwearing palette that withstands day-to-day life; ageing gracefully with use and time. The screening is designed to encourage the garden to gradually devour and dominate the building’s exterior, reducing its presence in this already established, garden-rich suburb.