Architects: BKK Architects
- Area: 300 m²
- Year: 2021
Manufacturers: Grazia and Co
Lead Architects: Simon Knott, Vaughan Howard
- Interior Design: Elizabeth Mason
- City: Glen Iris
- Country: Australia
Text description provided by the architects. Keep House is where a couple lives, work from home, and raises their two teenagers. Their corner block is a wedge shape, its rounded edge facing a park across the street, its back garden culminating in a triangle. The block is elevated from the street, placing it on view all along its extensive street frontage and from the park. They needed a house that would connect the parkland and garden to the family, yet guard their privacy on the inherently visible site.
For them, Keep House is forever. It’s theirs to keep, and it keeps them cocooned and safe. People say your home is your castle, and we often discussed ideas of the medieval castle keep: the tower within a castle compound fortified as a refuge in case enemies penetrate the rest of the castle. Similarly, Keep House shields the home’s privacy from the publicness of its frontage. Of course, it’s also a play on the popular idea of a “keep” or “forever” house.
After experimenting with many arrangements for fitting the house onto the site, we settled on an elongated shape bent into a squared-off C, essentially forming three wings. It’s set back from the curved frontage and pressed against the site’s diagonal boundaries, leaving a small, wind-sheltered triangular garden at the back. The C-shaped house folds around a native garden courtyard so the rooms have views into the garden and then through to the rooms opposite. Verandas line the courtyard, blurring the transition between garden and interior. It’s an inherently Australian landscape and a counterpoint to the manicured European park opposite.
There is a transition of privateness across the varied landscape zones: the visible lawn and veggie patch out the front, the native garden courtyard, and the back triangle accessed from the media space, which is fenced on all sides. Keep House shows how architecture can explore shades of privateness between what is totally inner and what is gladly revealed to passers-by. It’s tailored for a family that needs spaces to come together, and spaces to be apart. The spaces for living, both inside and outside are intrinsically Australian and, as Robyn Boyd said about other houses, they “do the essential thing as simply and directly and purely as possible”.