As presented at the architects institute awards last weekend.
Myrtle Street Relativity
This project is located on a narrow street in an area characterised by compact lots and largely intact Edwardian streetscapes. The site’s original house was a Bungalow which had been renovated in the Bavarian Style in the 1970’s and was judged to have reached the end of its useful life.
The new dwelling was designed for a family of five relocating from Wheeler’s Hill to East St. Kilda. They moved from a 370sq.m. house on a site of 1000sq.m. to the new 200sq.m. home on a site of 370sq.m with no significant changes to the family structure. The brief required flexible room functions to accommodate boomerang children, work from home spaces and acoustic separation for a drummer’s budding musical career. While the new house is slightly smaller than the 214 sqm average new Australian house size, the challenge of condensing the brief into a smaller dwelling on a much smaller lot raised expectations of spatial relativity.
The family’s decision to downsize their home but not their life was, in part, a conscious desire for a smaller footprint and a more sustainable home. A high performing dwelling that exploited the limited passive solar siting opportunities was requested. A core of concrete block orders the internal spaces, provides centred vertical circulation and stack effect venting as well as mitigating thermal fluctuations to the second storey.
The houses massing, siting, and the external disposition of materials respond to an analysis of the characteristics of surrounding Edwardian dwellings. Neighbouring housing forms have been abstracted towards a simple expression of volume and material richness has been concentrated around openings. The entry arrangement, big roof and heavily crafted entry relate the new to neighbouring.
This contemporary interpretation of an Edwardian house has generated debate amongst the neighbours.
Our favourite criticism was that it looks like a shearer’s shed.