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.
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.
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.