The building is comprised of seven ‘terrace’ houses that overlap each other in an ‘l-shaped’ configuration.
Adopting the multiple dwelling plot ratio provisions allowed us to avoid the all-too-common survey strata lots attached to a common driveway. We were able to increase the density of the site whilst maintaining a low-rise building envelope that presented to the street the appearance of only four dwellings.
Utilising the above, we were able to treat the site layout in a more flexible manner and could adopt a series of principles that would inform the development of the design;
– Cars should not occupy the entire ground plane.
– The driveway should offer some form of amenity
– Occupants should not be afraid of looking onto the driveway
– Cars and people should enter the site at different points
– Each dwelling should be provided with a garden on grade
– Each dwelling should open fully to the north and south.
Each of the dwellings only occupies a small footprint, in essence they are the relative size of apartments, however the aim was to use the spatial configuration and circulation to enhance the perception of space and volume. By providing each with upper and lower floors, there is an increased sense of separation between pieces of program whilst the stepping in the upper floor plate of some of the dwellings creates an added perception of separation between spaces.
Whilst the southern elevation adopts a more ‘residential’ and conservative appearance, opening up to the surrounding suburb, the northern elevation is configured solely to address privacy of the occupants. The continuous masonry ‘wall’ is articulated to create enclosures to the ground level courtyards whilst also providing a private balcony to the dwellings with upper floor living. This masonry element provides ample shade and thermal mass to the dwellings and as a result the courtyards each have a wonderful micro-climate to escape the harsh summer heat.
The material palette for the building is very simple, being of only painted brickwork and grooved cement board. The intent was to create subtle textural changes that would be emphasised as the sun moved around the building. Deep shadows of the courtyards puncture the northern façade whilst the southern elevation is softened by the addition of natural timber battens that will silver over time.
The landscape and gardens have been conceived as the other material across the site. The white building becomes a backdrop to enhance the colours of the varying planting arrangements.
The project is intended to test an alternative model of suburban infill, encouraging occupants to appreciate volume and liveability over scale and land ownership. It shows that apartment living does not need to compromise the amenity you are leaving behind with your old house.