Australian Home Design: Mixing it up
An innovative dual occupancy project sets out to challenge design conventions in downtown Geelong.
You can listen to the podcast of Ed's interview with Light Home editor Amanda Falconer here.
When Melbourne architect Ed Ewers spotted a flat suburban block in Geelong that had been vacant for 30 years, he decided that a dual occupancy home that pushed the boundaries was the best choice.
A dual occupancy home is two dwellings on the same site, often connected with a party wall.
For a traditional neighbourhood that has recently started to turn away from the post-war style cream brick and tiled roof, Ewers’ vision for the project was a change from the single level 1950s family homes that populate the area.
“In the last ten years the area has undergone a fair bit of gentrification, with more of an emphasis on contemporary design and higher density, which is what attracted us to the area,” he says.
“Now it looks quite contemporary and demonstrates modern living principles for medium density.”
Thinking outside the boxThe project, which is in the early stages – not a sod has yet been turned – is a good example of how great design involves thinking outside the box, especially when dealing with a challenging site.
Aside from having to fit the two homes on a 14m wide block, Ewers also had to consider how to deal with having a north-facing front yard.
“Best design principles usually involve getting living and outdoor areas fronting that aspect,” he says.“Instead, we’ve staggered the front yard – there’s a low section on the street without a fence and then an enclosed garden courtyard beyond that which opens into the main living space through sliding doors.”But this clever design approach wasn’t well received at first. The local council initially objected to the open front yard space, citing a lack of privacy as their main concern.
“People usually feel that a home should have a private, secluded open space where you can do whatever you choose,” says Ewers.
Here comes the sunThe project really goes beyond the traditional and soaks up the north sun.
“All primary living areas are at the front, with driveways down the outside boundaries of the two-storey building, which is split down the middle and is centred on the lot.”Overhang from the cantilevered upper storey will help protect the front yard from the summer sun and helps articulate the building form.
With the whole design being based around opening up to the north, the project is somewhat contrary to a normal housing development. However, by embracing the courtyards on the street and having the principal living spaces facing north, the design easily incorporates passive solar design principles and opens the main living spaces up to the sunlight.
Two in one
“We wanted the project to read as one building, but also as two; we wanted a quite common aesthetic to all,” says Ewers.Scyon™ Matrix™ cladding will be featured in a two-tone colour pattern around the entire first floor rooms – “The Matrix panels are prominent and striking and will set up the identity of the homes,” he says.
Lightweight materials like fibre cement sheet and Scyon™ Stria™ cladding will be used on the ground level of the home.
“Using a lightweight construction approach means you save time and costs,” says Ewers.We will be following the progress of this project in the Australian Style blog. To see how Ed’s vision is turned in to a reality make sure you come back to this space in August.
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