A Contemporary Expression of a Traditional Worker’s Cottage - Dark Horse by Architecture Architecture
Melbourne, VIC, Australia
With Architecture Architecture’s Dark Horse project, the simple brief for a two-storey, two-bedroom house is expanded into something much more, exploring the potential of the traditional worker’s cottage aesthetic.
The original house was in such poor condition that it was required to be demolished, however, the new build needed to continue the heritage worker’s cottage façade on the street due to council regulation. The narrow site also became a central challenge for the design, requiring that the new architecture maximise the limited space in a transformative way.
The front half of the house was designed with a generous study, requested by the client who works from home, leading to the dining room that opens up onto the centre courtyard. These areas can operate either as separate spaces, or as one large space thanks to the sliding doors that connect them. The three areas that make up the study, courtyard and kitchen can, thus, operate as a significant social area when opened up.
The illumination is surprising in the dark narrow block, but due to the expansive spaces, the site maximises every aspect of light.
At the back of the dining and kitchen, a service section contains extra kitchen space, laundry, and the staircase in a condensed block that avoids unnecessarily consuming valuable space. Meanwhile, in order to ensure that the design maximised all available space on the site, the architects used thin border walls of 15 cm thick walls, instead of the usual 30 cm. As such, the internal walls act as the support, centring the house around the middle service block.
The placement of the courtyard immediately behind the first room, and the connection through the study, dining, and kitchen opening up into one large open area, helps provides natural light and ventilation. The illumination is surprising in the dark narrow block, but due to the expansive spaces, the site maximises every aspect of light.
Dark Horse became a balance of light and dark, with a palette that combines both warmth and a clean-lined austerity. The clients sought a low-maintenance house that was easy to clean, so concrete was used for the floors and benchtops. The prefabricated sheets used for the walls reflected light throughout the rooms and corridors, while the dark ceilings reflect the colours of the outside. The tiled detailing contributes details of tonal depth, without distracting from the clean lines.
Moving upstairs, the design addresses the desire for the bedroom spaces to have a much warmer palette, and the clients’ wish for a timbered log cabin aesthetic. The various timber grains add texture, and the pale green curtains are reflective of the surrounding environment with ample greenery.
Dark Horse sees Architecture Architecture create the fullest expression of the original brief through intelligent spatial planning, a simple yet strong palette of internal materials, and a considered balance between light and dark. The result is a worker’s cottage redefined for contemporary living.