Home for an architect and his family with an unique curved form

Architects: Tandem Design Studio
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Year: 2016
Photo courtesy: John Gollings
Description:

“Named after its sunny corner block, True North is a home for an architect and family.

The site contains two dwellings. At the rear, stables built in the 1880s was renovated to a one bedroom townhouse, while on the corner, a new three bedroom house replaced a decaying 1950’s cottage.

The geometry of the sinuous, curving form emerged from the constraints of the irregular, triangular site. Opting for a triangular form created challenges in the corners of the plan. The corners were rounded to tightly contain the space and depart from the site geometry.

The ground level contains a sunken lounge, kitchen, dining and double-height atrium in a single room surrounded by pocket gardens. Upstairs three pods, accessed by stair and bridge, hover about a two storey atrium, containing bedrooms and bathrooms, creating interior space.

With the street close on two sides, and to minimise overlooking opportunities to neighbouring properties, bedrooms were placed upstairs making a seemingly solid mass overhead, shading conjoined volumes of dining, sunken lounge, kitchen and floor play spaces. Ground level windows open the north elevation. The shape of the inset garden was refined to self-shade north openings during summer.

After pragmatic considerations of dwelling were addressed through a logical series of operations responding to site, form and streetscape. Then sculptural qualities inherent in the abstract form were considered and amplified in loose metaphors to relate meaning.

The shape is like a coral bommie. The implied extension of the south elevation creates a dialogue with the stables, traversing new and old. The curving façade along Eastwood interprets a neighbouring bay window. The pleated façade whirls and billows, like a dress. The portholes remind me of industry, the hoods a fort. The low brick walls connect to Kensington’s masonry heritage. Being inside is like looking out through a water drop, or hiding inside a musical instrument.

Opting for a triangular form created challenges in the corners of the plan. The corners were rounded to tightly contain the space and depart from the site geometry. The form dips away from the northern boundary, making a sunlit garden. At the rear, the house was bent northwards away from the southern neighbour, improving sunlight penetration to their backyard. A dimple was introduced between dining and sunken lounge along the front, eastern facade, indicating the front door. Curving the building along the north and west connects side and front in a continuous form, bending the streetscape to create connectivity between major and minor roads.

The stables were renovated, creating a single bedroom townhouse. A braced timber, insulated internal structure founded on concrete ring beam and slab, over which the original brick floor was re-laid, stabilises the double brick walls. A kitchen, laundry, living and dining areas were located downstairs, a bedroom and ensuite upstairs. Modern windows replaced existing barn doors and shuttered openings.”