Messy House
Messy House In a Victorian street, Victorian proportions matter. These are universal like all proportions. What is a bull-nosed covered veranda if not a proportion of shade. This house was designed and built for my family (wife, two kids and myself). It was first named ‘the messy house’ by my son Chris (three years old) who would refer to it as such due to how messy it looked during construction. Perhaps he knew more and was referring to the way it was designed both in my office and on my drawing board. The street is in a conservation area with many grand old houses, each with their own verandahs and living rooms fronting the street as they did in Victorian times. There are also some beautiful trees amidst the built landscape. I thought that the built form in the street could and should be respected in the new building by way of a roof-form and building base. The concept of a verandah like form could be considered in a new idiom; the interiors and program remain where originally planned, with living rooms that now face the street in a sort of internalised verandah. The large living area at the street frontage is availed the opportunity of a view of the tree canopy landscape by way of a horizontal box-window, framed top and bottom in solid elements like Ned Kelly’s mask (see later comments). A courtyard in the centre of the plan’s composition has a moving wall which transforms a corridor into a verandah for the summer. The abundance of controlled natural light avoids the reliance on artificial lighting whilst the use of raw finished and material, such as off-form concrete and timber, further minimises the environmental impact. Natural cross ventilation with operable walls, hatches and vents reduces the need for space cooling. With all these little ideas I tried to respect the scale of the street whilst making a convenient and nice place to live for my family. (Images 1 and 2) Ned Kelly is an Australian Villain/Hero and he wore a steel head-protection with a sliver enabling vision. The house presents a great horizontal hole like that sliver from inside and then the trees are always visible behind a sort of armour; always protected but fragile. (Image 3) This horizontal landscape image is then the image that is constant and the birds can fly across its canvas in a flurry of colour that inspires connection with the world on another more sensory plane. (Image 4 and 5) A constant light provides a lightness and then this lightness is given a weight which notions a compositional gravity downwards. The exterior of the building can open and shut with many openings and shutters like gills to accept light and air. The smells of the trees arrive suddenly into the room. In this way, the furniture is all selected to be off the floor so that when sitting, the comfort of a person might be anchored and altered by changing the façade; air able to move past ankles and neck. Standing presents the occupier with another experience again; and all the experience relates to all sensory perceptions including smell, sound, taste, touch and finally, sight, which surprisingly becomes a lesser matter of experience amidst all these. The last factor is time itself, the building being almost entirely built of second-hand materials and dealing with a heritage on its own site in a robust way. The old is consumed by the new but the structure of the place remains like a new relative borne in the same gene pool. Love is what makes the relation stronger. Note: For images refer to composition text images file


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