Gable Inspired Geometries - Garden House by James Design Studio
Pymble, NSW, Australia
Dismantling the traditional residential typology, Garden House is designed around a central courtyard, taking inspiration from the gable-form and reinterpreting it..
Located in Pymble, New South Wales, Garden House is a play on the modest post-war cottage typology it sits amongst. The project is defined by a dismantling of these traditional geometries Jonathan James, founding director of James Design Studio says, “The final shape of the house was formulated by splitting this simple gable form down the middle and dividing it in two. These two separate forms were to be joined with a single-storey glazed walkway. From the street onlookers would be able to, through this walkway, glimpse the more contemporary forms beyond”. The design team wanted to ensure that the house’s presence was modest and sympathetic to the surrounding older residential forms. Jonathan explains that while the project is contemporary, they sought to ensure it did not it was not “stand out obnoxiously amongst its more traditional neighbours”.
Located in Pymble, New South Wales, Garden House is a play on the modest post-war cottage typology it sits amongst.
Along with James Design Studio, the team saw builder Kearey Construction, landscape designer Peter Fudge and stylist Jenny Boustred all combine forces. Their shared vision of a contemporary residential solution that embraced its surrounding landscape elements led to the project’s name ‘the Garden House’. Encouraging a blurred boundary between the inside and outside may not be a new or innovative feat, however, in the concentrated planning and overall separation of zones and volumes the project shows its shared purpose. The here, the overall mass, taking inspiration from the gable form, is then separated through an internal courtyard and walkway, to further emphasise this reinterpreted geometry.
The design team wanted to ensure that the house’s presence was modest and sympathetic to the surrounding older residential forms.
Originally, the site was occupied by a previous dwelling, however, after deliberation it was decided that a new build was the best approach. The most important concern was ensuring the new structure inherently felt like it belonged in the existing streetscape.. Jonathan says “through implementing a geometry which was to reflect the neighbours’ more traditional appearance an approach was devised”, which involved reversing the closed-off entry of its neighbours. He explains their intention was to , provide glimpses of life behind the front door without creating a ‘fish bowl’ effect, which was achieved through creating a view corridor between the street and the outdoor living spaces to the rear of the property visible through large windows in the space joining the buildings two distinctive forms.”
The approach to materiality was based on a foundation of subtlety and texture, referencing the neighbourhood and its character. Jonathan says, “the contrasting textural palette of the house’s exterior was fundamental”, and resulted in, “the main finishes being painted brick, raw timber and glass”. The restrained nature of the palette is also a nod to the smaller footprint of its adjacent built form. Context is clearly key, he adds, “the brickwork reflects the surrounding suburban homes which are primarily face brick in appearance. The raw timber finish reflects the tall gums which predominate, giving the neighbourhood its unique character”.
The most important concern was ensuring the new structure inherently felt like it belonged in the existing streetscape.
Much like many a suburban residential allotment, the primary issue with achieving passive, successful sustainable mechanisms is that it is dependent on the site location and orientation, neither of which can be controlled when allotments are already tightly allocated. Jonathan says Garden House, however, “used the opportunity to take advantage of the site’s north-north westerly orientation”, where, “the layout, and footprint of the house were born from passive design principle”. The approach was a combination of wanting, he says, “to minimise the need for internal lights during the day” and also be “inviting the desirable winter sun to enter” when needed. Through a series of considered planning mechanism such as overhanging awning roof lines, blade walls to surround openings and shade from summer western sun, and strategic placement of windows based on orientation, this was able to be achieved.
Lighting is an inherently integral part of the experience within the space, as much as the materiality and texture. Jonathan says, “lights, both internal and external, can play with shapes and patterns present in the building’s form”, where “the house need not feel the same during the day as it does as night.” James Design Studio work from the belief that the importance of light, both natural and artificial, should be considered as part of all the geometries, particularly regarding the shadows they create.
Unique to the studio is an understanding that the client’s role is not contained to their specific site, that “the client isn’t just paying for the building, but their scope extends to the environment and the surrounding community as a whole”, Jonathan says. This approach is clearly evident in Garden House, where the sum of parts is seen as belonging to a larger whole, and extending to its influence on the surrounding urban fabric. In this project, James Design Studio has shown that successful design is, and should be, measured on a social and larger cultural level, beyond the site boundary.