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Gestalt house

This project sets out to challenge inhabitants’ perception of scale and in and around built form while celebrating daily & seasonal cycles.   

Tight site constraints have resulted in an extension comprising a rear open kitchen, dining & living space, opening onto a north courtyard, along with the restoration of the front section of an Edwardian weatherboard house with complementary adjustments made in response to contemporary, sustainable living.

Ceiling and wall forms have been conceived to play on inhabitants’ perspectival awareness, borrowing from the idea of the Ames Room. An inhabitable Gestalt space, offering more than a singular open plan space. The building and items within hope to stimulate the viewer, depending on their location and vantage point, the space appearing sometimes longer, narrow, taller, shorter, larger and smaller, also affecting the perceived scale of the inhabitant.

The key device here is a triangulated, angled cedar ceiling, suspended over the extension and extending outside, wide at the rear and tapering back to the point in the house where old meets new.  
Scale is further engaged with through the composition of the north courtyard façade, thick, cantilevered eaves, over scaled north window and deliberately thick frames. 

High level windows, oriented on a north-east angle allow direct rays of sunlight to bounce morning light off ceilings and walls into the space. A cheery space to be in on a sunny morning. Direct afternoon sunlight is minimised, yet allowing diffused natural light to illuminate the space after 1pm while shielding the house from the hot summer afternoon sun. 

Formally, the extension takes its initial cue from a simple pitched, gable roof form, however the ridge beam has been angled and split into two, separated by openable clerestory windows, hidden in the most part from the inhabitant. These windows, located at the highest section of the ceiling, permit free passive cooling and ventilation when desired.   

Gestalt Northcote represents an ongoing fascination in scale, space perception and natural light.

Photos by Tanja Milbourne

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