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.
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