Architecture

LIGHTBOX

25th March 2014

Earlier this month I posted about a fantastic dining-kitchen in black and brick – part of a renovated and extended terraced house in Victoria, Australia, which had been shortlisted last year in the Australian Interior Design Awards. The post reminded me to look out for this year’s awards, so when the shortlist was released I headed over to the Residential Design category to have a look – you can also find the list here from Vogue Living. Needless to say there are many fantastic projects showcased here, but a couple did leap out, including this house in Melbourne designed by Edwards Moore.

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I’ve long had an interest in compact urban architecture, which probably comes from living in a city centre myself, and I’m constantly drawn to houses where the owners – or architects – have created space, or the feeling of space at least, from a tight floor plan. One of my favourite houses in Edinburgh sits on a narrow site on a residential street, and is contained by the buildings on either side as well as the neighbouring gardens to the rear. There aren’t ‘views’ out as such, and there wasn’t the potential to create any for the project’s architect Andrew Stoane.

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Featuring a tactile combination of timber, glass and concrete – including a glazed rear elevation – the house is a lesson in how to create a generous-feeling, light-filled home, where the layered spaces, including terraces, blur the boundaries between interior and exterior space, and where the views are primarily internal. Compact it may be, but it’s also one of the most exciting houses I’ve visited – one where every inch of space works hard, and where every detail is there for a reason.

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Which brings me to Lightbox – an urban house with a similarly compact footprint. The architects describe the building as: ‘A small single-storey terrace house, dwarfed by the surrounding urban fabric. The aim, to increase the quality and scale of the living spaces within, improve the sense of aspect/outlook and access to natural light, whilst maintaining a private and comforting oasis.’

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The architects added a second storey, and integrated this floor level with the ground floor spaces, describing the new level as ‘a vertical room which, through its connectivity between ‘branches’, creates a great sense of volume and unity within the dwelling as a whole. The translucent skin floods the spaces with natural light, and strategically placed openings create a central internal landscape.’

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I particularly like how this translucent ‘skin’ pours light from the upper level down into the ground floor living space, and how by rethinking the fabric of the building in this way, the whole interior has been transformed. As with the Edinburgh house, there’s a great sense of interconnection. Special mention also goes to the giant window/door that opens up the top level, literally bringing the outside in. The industrial quality of this exterior sits in contrast to the front façade, while, from the street, you’d never guess that this house offers the volume that it does. Could you imagine living here? I certainly could.

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For more images, see the post on This Is Paper. Photography by Fraser Marsden. Lightbox is shortlisted in the Residential Design category in the Australian Interior Design Awards 2014.

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