1997 raia architecture awards
merit award for residential architecture
Some years ago we were asked to help with the restoration of a house in Annandale. It was a single storey semi detached house with a rear yard one level below . The brief was to create a second level below the existing ground floor. This was to provide a studio space, bathroom and laundry facilities, storage and connections to a north facing courtyard, which is enclosed on three sides. The client was determined to build the majority of the project himself, which presented an interesting twist to the standard design process.
The project seeks to address the lack of connection to outdoor space through a series of architectural devices. We sought to increase the liveability of the house by creating varied areas within which to use and enjoy it.
The scheme exists as it does specifically due to the site and its context. The lower yard enclosed by two storey high walls is the focus for the design. The existing ground floor level addresses the yard at upper level by a series of elements which form frame, platform and direct physical connection. The lower floor level recedes physically into the site, allowing at once a response to a subterranean space and a subtle connection to the outdoors . A large sandstone rock anchors this space to the site. The rear of the existing house has been penetrated by a plywood box affording connection to light, air and sky. This is in direct contrast to this housing type.
The house has been designed within the contemporary idiom. The context of 'shotgun' semi, demanded a considered solution which at once extended and rationalised the space. The aim of the work is to enhance livability and direct a series of connections to a newly formed outdoor courtyard. A series of elements and layered volumes controlled by a straightforward geometry contribute to both the functional and conceptual aspects of the design. A thick wall runs down one side of the space collecting all the functions that the ground floor space requires and allows the scale to be controlled. The wall houses the kitchen and the majority of its equipment. It is the boundary for the narrow stair connecting to the newly formed lower level. It is carved out half way along its length for a wall of translucent steel framed glass and becomes a foil for a joinery unit that houses all audio and TV equipment, plus books. This wall becomes part of a timber lined sleeve which at once articulates the living space, frames the transition to outdoor deck and physically pushes the new spaces beyond the walls of the existing structure. The small house demanded a scheme in which objects perform more than a single task, walls are storage, floors are light filters to lower living spaces, sills are at once seats, storage units and frames. Space is extended by various architectural elements and organisations. Space is also extended by use of mirror thus sky/garden views are seen from both ends of the building. This all contributes to the creation of a series of spatial directions thus altering the 'shotgun' experience.
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