This project is for a single house located in Hawthorn. The brief called for a residence that would respond to the specific needs of the client: a retired woman entering her twilight years. Like many within her demographic, she was concerned that the house accommodated both her requirements as an elderly person and those of her children and grandchildren. It needed to be a home that comfortably oscillated between being a place of entertainment, family engagement and activity to a space of reflection and seclusion. Another key feature of the client’s brief was to provide a means of stargazing and to visually track the moon’s orbiting path from within the house.

The site is also unusual: a small land area of around 170m²; no direct street frontage; with the block effectively “landlocked” by surrounding residences. The only narrow access is via a 60m stretch of cobblestoned laneway.

The design is arranged as a simple programmatically symmetrical plan: on one side a space of social engagement with dining, living, and kitchen areas; on the other a space of retreat with master bedroom, bathroom and laundry. The upstairs level is reserved as a sleeping space for visitors and family, with its own bathroom. Each of these zones are accessed through transition spaces, which are intended to amplify the liminal condition, between complete withdrawal and complete engagement. These periscope-like spaces, including the entry courtyard and stairs to the first floor, are moments of geometric twisting inflection. In a tight urban condition, they are carefully calibrated to provide cropped views of the night sky and in particular the waxing and waning moon (a celestial body emblematic of cyclical change).

The house is made from profiled metal cladding which interlocks with cedar timber battens to transition between solid and variegated conditions.    


Project Team: Andrew Simpson, Emma Parkinson, Michael Barraclough
Completed: 2010 (unbuilt)

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