Work in Progress - Elwood House, Di Mase Architects, Australia

This project is in the early stages of development and the site is located in one of Melbourne’s inner bayside suburbs.  The client brief is to create a new family home that is compact and environmentally friendly.  Their existing house is an Edwardian house nearby which will be sold to fund this project. This project provides an opportunity to create a contemporary experience and spaces that are filled with light, technology and environmental considerations.

The site is located adjacent to a 3 storey block of flats and large freestanding dwelling. The house is a deliberate attempt to create an ambiguous scale and abstract composition to the street.  The front façade composition is the result of a careful layering of windows and recesses to create an un-house like composition.  The building resembles a gallery or small public building that aims to give something back to the street and its context.

The roof is a sheltering element that folds down over the walls to accommodate the various functions.   The wall and roof elements are ambiguous and the junction between the two elements is playful.  The idea of the roof is to provide an enveloping blanket to protect its occupants from the elements and in places a clerestory window breaks through the roof line to allow light and air to enter into key living areas.

The front of the dwelling is dominated by a large street tree and the front garden is very much part of the street offering a front fence with a public seat to enjoy the shade of the tree and the activities of this fairly quiet residential street.  By contrast the façade is private and the entry is located away from the street to protect the privacy of the owners.  There is a journey from the street to the entry; an experience whereby the building’s interior reveals itself and envelopes the visitor. 

I like to day-dream that this project is a small gallery somewhere in Stockholm.  It is a restrained building with a strong public presence that symbolises an unnerving faith in public institution – which in this instance is given over to the idea of a house. 

The roof is conceived of as a thin pizza dough layer - able to fold down and over the supporting structure below – providing comfort, privacy and light as required.   It is an enveloping surface that moves to the structure and needs below.  The moving line between wall and roof somewhere between first floor and roof becomes something that traces the shape and form of the building in an abstract way and at a height that the eye is naturally drawn towards. 

The external materials at this stage are likely to be black zinc and face brickwork – and the building will include solar panels, rain water tanks, rain water gardens, grey water system and natural ventilation through the building to capture the sea breezes.  The building is a play between form, light and materials – that aims to be a sensuous experience between interior and exterior, shape and form. 

We are excited by the possibility of this small building as a positive contribution to the street and the well-being of its occupants.   It brings together our skills to make small spaces work and to synthesise our interior work with the shapes and forms of the building.

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