Finalist in the 2015 Architeam Awards

A Considered Something

This house for 5 started with a big client expectation, a smallish budget, a big brief and a small site.

Given the house is for 2 adults and 3 children, spaces for everyone formed an important component of the brief.

The question was, how could all this be mediated on this site for this budget?

 

The solution was predicated on the notion that ‘spaces for everyone’ shouldn’t necessitate physically large spaces, rather that less defined, flexible spaces and places within for rest, retreat, contemplation and congregation provide the answer.

 

Everyone gets a bedroom (there are 4 in all) and there’s the open kitchen, living & dining areas opening onto a useable yard space. This pretty much ate up the budget and used up the site, so back to the question on ‘spaces for everyone’ (and their guests).

 

Three additional spaces/places were found:

 

The first, a 2m wide extension to the east boundary extended south beyond the existing rear façade creates a small ‘snug’ area, not a room in the conventional sense, but placed where the cat might sit, a sunny afternoon spot sitting out in the yard. Custom banquette seating with storage under and a full wall of framed glass bifolds doors permits the snug to be ‘extended’ onto the deck or for the deck to be ‘extended’ into the snug. Read a book, plug in a device or sit inside next to an outside fire. This space is for everyone and no-one at the same time, to be shared, claimed, reclaimed and inhabited.

 

The second, the upper stair landing area is another opportunistic space for someone. The handrail stops short midway up the stair next to a wide window sill formed to provide a mid-stair seat.

 

Finally, at the top of the stair, the landing is a little larger than it needs to be, an ambiguous space, just large enough for a study perhaps (the owners’ current use), a small living area, another ‘snug’. This one has a great view too, differentiating it from the snug downstairs.

That sorts the house and family, but what about the urban condition? This house is on a corner. It should do something for the street shouldn’t it?

 

Most streets are unique, but this one is pretty special. It has the “Aqueduct and Tent House” by Simon and Freda Thornton Architects a few houses down, diagonally opposite. The Hurstbridge train line is to the north with a substantial strip of vegetation between the side road and train line. Swings hang from trees on the nature strip. Tall, deciduous trees, beautifully deformed through years of pruning around power cables line the adjacent west streetscape.

 

A brightly coloured patterned screen on the upstairs northwest corner visually addresses this building by day, contrasting with the streetscape tones of fence, tree and sky aiming to address and activate this corner. By night, the screen is inverted, no longer orange and with the lights on inside, the openings (dark by day) become light, a lantern effect over the street.

 

Pattern and texture is embedded in the brickwork, tiling, joinery and from patterned screens which create daily and seasonally fluctuating temporal patterns of light and shadow.

 

Project Team

Ben Statkus, Minnie Statkus & Vern Chan.

Photos by Matthew Mallett & Ben Statkus.

A vibrantky coloured patterned screen on the upstairs northwest corner visually addresses this building by day, contrasting with the streetscape tones of fence, tree and sky aiming to address and activate this corner. By night, the screen is inverted, no longer orange and with the lights on inside, the openings (dark by day) become light, a lantern effect over the street.

 

Pattern and texture is embedded in the brickwork, tiling, joinery and from patterned screens which create daily and seasonally fluctuating temporal patterns of light and shadow.

From the Owners:


Ben Statkus designed our home for five in Northcote, Melbourne, Australia. We are thrilled with the results. Ben did a fantastic job creating open and light-filled spaces with fabulous dramatic touches.
 
Ben spent lots of time with us in the design phase to develop our ideas and his in a collaborative way. He presented creative and innovative design responses to our brief, working with us to create a home that is spacious, functional and beautiful to be in.
 
We have a relatively small block and did not want to lose the little garden space we had, yet at the at the same time we needed to extend our living space to create room for our family, including our three growing children. Ben came up with ideas such as our 'snug' which create additional shared living areas that are flexible for family and entertaining. 
 
Ben carefully selects materials that offer minimal cost, maximum energy efficiency and are elegant in design. He values community and neighbourhood in his approach, aiming to create architecture that he is proud of, that his clients love and that contributes to the streetscape. 
 
We discovered that the trades really enjoy working with Ben's designs, because his work is creative but not impossible to implement. Our plasters, bricklayers and cabinet maker found it really engaging to work with his ideas and enjoyed the results of their labor.
 
We really enjoyed working with Ben, and we love our new home!

Small flexible spaces reduce the overall building area, reducing embodied energy to build along with reduced volumes to heat, cool and clean.

 

The ‘snug’ space that experiences warm afternoon sun for a passively warmed and naturally lit cosy space in winter.

 

All windows and glazed doors made from recycled timber with double glazing.

 

Low & high level openable windows including the full west façade of the upstairs bedroom to take advantage of cooling south westerly breezes.

An animated, self-shading, west facing façade which is further shaded from the afternoon sun by the deciduous street trees reduces reliance on artificial cooling despite the large areas of north and west glazing, all so important to capture views.

This project, is a renovation & extension in Northcote, completed late 2014.

 

The existing house had been renovated by previous owners and was mostly retained with some reconfiguration and modification of spaces. The new works comprise an extended kitchen, living and dining area with a new ‘snug’ space that experiences warm afternoon sun for a passively warmed and lit cosy space in winter with built in banquette seating, shaded in summer. A new upstairs extension comprises a study, roof storage access, shared ensuite/powder room, walk-through robes, a main bedroom and a compact balcony with views towards the CBD. 

 

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