An Unexpected Oasis – Garden House by Austin Maynard Architects
Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Photography Derek Swalwell
Words Bronwyn Marshall

Exemplifying an integrated approach to sustainable design, Garden House captures and stores more energy than it consumes. Austin Maynard Architects navigates a narrow allotment in the dense urban environment of Melbourne’s inner north to propose a cleverly functioning forever home, able to adapt and evolve over time.

Immersed in a lushgreen landscape, Garden House establishes its own unique engagement with its site and non-traditional frontage, with access by way of a separate pedestrian laneway. In its inner-Melbourne locale, the tightly programmed home sits nestled into its milieu, navigating its long and linear bounds with a combined softening of edges and the dissemination of its parts. As the forever home for its family of five, the aim was to create a residence that supported their everyday lives, with an engrained adaptability to evolve and expand for incoming guests and entertaining as needed. Austin Maynard Architects proposes an exemplar in sustainability and urban infill through the creation of an intelligent and self-sufficient home.

Noting that the average household in Australia utilises 19kwh of energy each day, Garden House has been designed to instead produce 100kwh, which is then stored in its 26kwh Tesla battery.

At the core of the brief was a commitment to relevance and self-accountability, and the building’s ability to generate energy well beyond what it needs to operate reinforces that architecture has a contribution to make beyond simply an aesthetic. Noting that the average household in Australia utilises 19kwh of energy each day, Garden House has been designed to instead produce 100kwh, which is then stored in its 26kwh Tesla battery. Passive control and deflection of heat, systems for the capture and storage of water, materiality, orientation and operable openings – each and every element has been considered to ensure the structure can breathe, react and provide energy to its occupants.

Built by Sargant Construction, together with landscape design by Eckersleys Garden Architecture, the focus of Garden House is a celebratory collaboration between its built form and landscape. In its highly landscaped setting, the functional rudiments sit concealed within a calming oasis of greenery, creating something of a disconnect from its urban address. The overall home is further broken down into four formal expressions on site, each with their own function, and connected through a mirrored circulation axis to further conceal the form. By breaking down the overall into parts that meander the challenging site, a better infiltration of landscape is expressed across the site, offering visual access to the gardens and allowing natural ventilation.

At the core of the brief was a commitment to relevance and self-accountability, and the building’s ability to generate energy well beyond what it needs to operate reinforces that architecture has a contribution to make beyond simply an aesthetic.

Garden House highlights that sustainable design principles and technology need not be supplementary but rather can be integral to a home as a whole. Meanwhile, the playful yet highly considered formal approach and close relationship between the building and the landscaping creates an unexpected oasis in an urban context.

Published 14 April, 2021
Photography  Derek Swalwell
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