Ivanhoe House

February 23rd, 2017

Located in the Inner suburb of Ivanhoe, sits a seemingly calm, unassuming modern suburban home in its moat of sand.  The house is a clever orchestration of balancing tension that has created wondrous moments throughout.

The house can be read as a conversation of dualities, of heavy and lightness, public and private and of light and darkness.  The first expression of this tension can be seen from street façade, essentially two forms bifurcated by a double height black void, which forms a grand recessive entry.  On the one side we have a solid, rigid, rectilinear form, seeming weighed down by its own mass.  On the other, elevated from the earth by a shard of black glass, symbolic of emptiness or absence.

The entry void then snakes its way through the house as a corridor, defining the living quarters from the public, family and friends realms to the private inner sanctum.   The public space which is experienced through implied volume, mediates between the private which are smaller volumes within the overall open plan larger volume.  This is reinforced with the monolithic timber volumes which are private bedroom and bathroom spaces with concealed entries and flush panel doors.  The winding corridor is interrupted by an interplay of forms lined with different textured surfaces of straight timber, hard edge faced brickwork, counter-balanced with a long, smooth curved flat white wall.

This thematic reading continues with the use of a monochromatic palette, of sandy, off-white versus dense black and highlighted timber.  The tones are subtle but rich, highlighting the natural beauty of stone and wood.  These materials, tones and tension are maintained from the exterior into the interior of the house.  The balancing of duality can be experienced throughout, from the lofty ceiling, which still feels intimate by the dark timber lining, the warmth of stone by careful selection, the large expanse of glass that still offers security, but all this tension reaches its crescendo with the interface of the transparent swimming pool wall that looks into the living room.  A perfect counterpoint that lies somewhere between, inside and out, cold and warmth, relaxed and active, openness and enclosed, the experienced and the experiment, the old and the modern.

South Yarra House

December 11th, 2015

The South Yarra House has utilized the site constraints as a means to design environmentally sustainable design solutions to somewhat complex site constraints. The project explores five key areas of investigation; site context, vehicle access and parking, solar orientation, landscaping and views which informed the design response for the proposal.

Site context:

The subject site is located in a narrow street without any definitive architectural character which enjoys an ecletic range of house typologies ranging from post war cottages, large brick 50’s deco houses and a plethora of newly constructed attached town houses and houses. The small allotments have forced increased densities in the area and as a result any new construction to new houses or extensions have been forced to the title boundaries in order to maximise the site envelopes. A 3m lane way to the east divides the subject site and the three extruded box like double storey’s dwellings all of which are built to the boundary. The western interface has a very large second storey addition to an Edwardian weather board home that dominates the subject site.  Our response was to match the built form and scale of the new house with a view to keep the geometry simple and proportional.

Vehicle access and parking:

The most significant site constraint for the scheme was that a less than 9m street frontage prohibited vehicle access from the street.  This forced the garage to the center of the site off the lanes way.  We utilized the access/egress space as an opportunity to create a de facto court yard/light well and thereby resulting in northern solar orientation to all habitable spaces.  The use of a car turn table not only assisted in easier access and egress, but also provided the client with a third car space. The innovative design strategy provided a multi layered solutions to the reoccurring urban problem for vehicle/parking accessing to small sites.

Solar Orientation:

Having every habitable room in the house facing north was critical to the design in order to maximize environmental sustainable efficiencies and light fill spaces without relying on east/west windows and borrowed light.  The light well to the garage was a key programmatic strategy to reinforcing the idea that constraint forces innovative design solutions through the problem solving process.


The project incorporates unconventional methods of landscaping and the role that they play in the design. Urban house typologies such as this one generally have limited opportunities to landscape and are generally located in the rear open space. We wanted to remove this limitation and provide a green vista from as many spaces as possible. The problem was that the car turntable in the court yard removed the capacity to landscape at ground level. Our solution was to create a ‘Sky Garden’ above the court yard which provided shading and an interesting juxtaposition between the building and the organic greenery.


Our objective was to internalize and structure views from inside to outside and from one space to the other.  Strategically placing windows throughout the house enabled us maintain privacy and surveillance from the front of the house right through to the back. More importantly the overlapping spaces captured vistas to key areas such as the sky garden. Incorporating a strip window at ground level in the lounge also enabled us to minimize south facing glazing and remove a high fence to the front for privacy.

Perforated House

November 24th, 2014

Nestled between a row of single fronted Victorian terraces and a double fronted Edwardian weatherboard houses, our strategy was to critique and respond to our ongoing research into the Terrace typology. We concluded that the demand and attraction for such housing has a stronger link with romanticized nostalgia rather than of good design with the emphasis on the facade and symbolism which dictates “the neighbourhood character” instead of responding to it.

We challenge the idea that small inner city blocks cannot respond to complex contextual constraints such as orientation, sustainability, innovative urban infill planning controls and heritage restrictions. Instead of negotiating with these so called ‘constraints’, we utilised them as areas of possibility and exploration for our design processes and discourse.

The single fronted terrace is by nature a small and narrow housing typology. The existing lot was subdivided into two separate lots, folding the existing linear plan back on itself and halving the building footprint. The built form is essentially an urban infill within a very small 5.5 x 14.4 meter envelope with a building footprint of 5.5 x 11.7 meters on ground and 5.5 x 8.8 meters on the first floor. We were interested in retaining the ‘idea’ and the ‘symbolism’ of the terrace but elevating the gesture to an ironic or even satirical level to engage in a public debate. The irony is manifested through the idea that it’s only through the absence of matter, that through perforation; the idea of the symbol of the terrace house is manifested rather than a physical reproduction of a terrace house.

The Perforated House is not a graphic stuck to a building celebrating Venturi’s “decorated shed”, instead the external façade could be experienced internally and is also a multi-functional device that constantly transforms the built form from solid to void, from private to public and from opaque to translucent. By day, the building is heavy and reflective and by night, transforms into a soft, translucent, permeable light box. The operable wall, or the absence of the façade, enabled us to remove the idea that houses are static.

The use of operable walls, doors, curtains and glass walls enables the occupants to change the experience and environment to compensate for the small spaces. This architectural manipulation of space blurs the boundaries between inside and outside, the public and private realm. The manipulated spaces overlap and borrow the amenity and context of its surrounding environment.

The plan inverts the traditional terrace program with the active living zones on the first floor opening onto a north facing terrace, thereby generating a primary northerly orientation to a south facing block. The perforated house incorporates passive sustainable interventions by orientating north glass bi-fold doors and glass louvers for cross ventilation as the primary means of cooling. The terrace redefines the “aussie” backyard reinforced by the childlike mural reminiscing on a past era and making commentary on the changing demography of the family unit and ultimately the inner city house typology.

Hancock House

December 2nd, 2014

This inner city house is located on a quiet corner allotment directly opposite a picturesque park. The scheme seeks to activate the corner whilst maintaining a primary visual connection to the borrowed amenity of the park. Primarily the house is volumetrically divided into three vaulted forms but simultaneously provides an open plan at the first floor to maintain a visual connection to the park throughout the entire upper floor. Each vaulted roof form uses volume to denote program and creates spatial separation for the open plan. The three roof forms are oriented perpendicular to the contextual subdivision pattern in order to create an alternate façade to what is traditionally “the side of the house”. The western ‘façade’ consists of 6 multicoloured wire cut bricks broken in half to create a textured surface and visual interest.  The façade also consisted of hit miss brickwork to provide light and a visual connection to the street whilst maintaining privacy.

Gold Street

November 24th, 2014

The Gold Street House responds to the rear laneway character of garage doors, timber fences and the neglected left-over spaces from the terrace houses that front the opposing street. We felt that these homes (like many terrace typologies) abandoned the rear of their terrace fronting Gold Street, and over the years have cultivated a language of gable/hipped roof building forms and utilitarian lean-to structures of light-weight materials such as compressed sheet; a very low tech economically driven decision.

Our response was to celebrate and reinterpret our context rather than to pretend that it was not there (the elephant we cannot see in the corner so to speak). The strategy was to insert a galvanized steel portal frame that encompasses the entire perimeter of the structure and is diagrammatically and symbolically translated as the ‘symbol’ of a ‘house’ as opposed to a simple ambiguous, anonymous building.

The materiality of the house incorporates and engages with the architectural language surrounding the contextual vernacular of black metal wall and roof cladding, painted compressed sheeting and timber paneling. By critically arranging these materials and their application, the house proudly and boldly addresses the street in its bright red and purple colours.

Jones Courtyard House

November 24th, 2014

The aim of the project was to demonstrate the possibilities of using generic, standardized and cost-effective building materials and methods, in this case; brick veneer, painted compressed sheet, colourbond roofing and cladding and plasterboard. Utilizing a make-do-with-what-you’ve-got approach, where critical architectural ideas are the platform for the design process. This project was an ongoing case study within our office and we seek to eliminate the idea that architectural ideas can only be achieved with big budgets and costly construction.

The plan is both open and closed, solid and void. The design intent was to compartmentalize the space with the flexibility of joining independent spaces, such as, the living room with the courtyard, dining space with the backyard, or all together as one continuous space.

The design response was informed by the formal manipulation of a traditional ‘hipped roof’ stretched from the first to ground floor on a continuous plane, thereby relinquishing two separate building elements and roof lines for each level. This intervention also enabled the building to engage the corner of the site, highlighting the perspective to the entry and floating downpipe, resulting in a multi-dimensional reading of the building at pedestrian level. The result is an ambiguity between scale and the demarcation between the ground and first floors, fascinating the question: where does the ground floor end and the first floor begin? The peeled back pop-up skylight sheds some light on the spatial conundrum.


November 24th, 2014

North Melbourne Warehouses

November 24th, 2014

Munster Terrace

November 24th, 2014

Tucked away in the back streets of North Melbourne, this project is an urban sculpture masquerading as a building. It is a fragment of the matrix of converted industrial buildings that are changing the demography and urban character of the city’s fringe. The converted warehouse is comprised of two, three-storey dwellings that interlock in plan and section to create engaging voids, double height spaces, and overlapping programs within the limited, 125 square meter, site area. The project negotiates between maximising the volumetric spaces and providing usable floor area inside the terrace, while the stringent planning regulations sculpted the building form from outside. The result is a series of complex forms blurring the boundaries between roof and wall, an elaborate interplay of space and void within a labyrinth of angled walls and roofs which critiques the conventional ‘wedding cake’ form.

Olive Street

November 24th, 2014