Structural & Civil Engineer – Adams Consulting Engineers
Building Surveyor – Gibson Dell Building Permits
Contextualism comes in many guises. This new residence replaced an existing single-storey weatherboard cottage in a street lined with similar single-storey weatherboard cottages. It stands proudly two-storey, has a flat roof and has a strongly emphasised verticality. At first glance, it is very different from the neighbours. And yet it sits comfortably in its suburban context.
Fundamentally, the owners liked the neighbourhood but not the prevailing house type. They wanted their new house to look just that – new, and to capture a way of living not possible within the older house types. We achieved this using a considered, relatively radical approach to siting, plan, form, material and colour.
The Essendon Residence breaks with the aged norms of its neighbours. It is cranked, boomerang-like in plan so that it maximises precious sunlight.
It is split-level, taking advantage of the sloping site. It provides clear and distinct zoning – separating parents and children, formal and informal living. A gallery-hallway draws occupants into the heart of the home – an expansive and richly textured kitchen – from which radiates the stairwell, powder room, laundry, study, cellar, living, dining and north courtyard. The first floor repeats the gallery hallway to link the children’s bedrooms and rumpus. Internally, the house features warm timbers and bright white giving it a Scandinavian aesthetic that contrasts with the dark, bluestone tile external cladding.
So whilst seeking to set their own mark in the street, the house simultaneously responds to cues from its neighbours, such as adopting a dark coloured roof colour, proportions of the front verandahs and setbacks both front and side.
The Essendon Residence is a distinctive house in the context of its quiet suburban setting. It is a house that is a credit to the owners’ brief and vision.