Maximising Site Amenity - HOUSE House by Austin Maynard Architects
Melbourne, VIC, Australia
Through an analysis of patterns of Australian residential typologies and increased density, Austin Maynard’s HOUSE House shows ingenuity in rethinking restrictive site amenity.
Completed in 2012, the principles behind HOUSE House remain very much prevalent and worthy of further discussion. Driven from a place of wanting to improve the responses to issues surrounding increased density and desire for larger outdoor areas, Austin Maynard Architects wanted to dismantle the thinking and driving philosophies that led to Australia current urban sprawl. Traditionally, inner (or near) city dwelling involved a compromise of outdoor space, in place of proximity to amenity and a richer, more diverse community fabric. The converse trade-off is that suburbia offered the opportunity for people to expand their horizons (in some cases literally) through larger site sizes and access to outdoor space. HOUSE House seeks to challenge all of this.
Essentially an extension to a set of Victorian terrace homes in Melbourne, the added volume fulfils a number of roles. Firstly, it connects the two terrace homes (both owned by the same family) vertically. Secondly, it opens up access between the two properties, as a consequence doubling the outdoor area available to both. The result is one architectural response that allows for an altered perspective on increasing density, while avoiding the departure from a richly diverse community.
Austin Maynard’s HOUSE House shows ingenuity in rethinking restrictive site amenity.
In an increasingly dense, and financially constraining economy, the answer does seem to lie in verticality. However there is still a draw to medium density living, for families, without having to enter the apartment style of living completely. Although globally there are numerous successful examples of high density, sky-high living, the Australian mentality does still seem to need to be connected to the earth, and its ‘plains-to-share’ mentality. Through literally connecting the two properties and sharing its outdoor space and responding to the Australian architectural aversion to vertical living, the modest family home takes on a new life.
Austin Maynard Architects wanted to dismantle the thinking and driving philosophies that led to Australia current urban sprawl.
The addition to the rear, similar to the vein running through most of Austin Maynard Architect’s work, is defined by a sense of joviality and not taking itself too seriously. The form of the connecting volume mimics the traditional house and pitched roof silhouette, making a comment on the ability of so many densely populated cities to co-exist in such slender vertical volumes. The shapes also reference and encourage the dialogue with street artists. The exterior is clad in red cedar timber, with the internal spiral stair by Enzie. The internal space then sees warmth through the Victorian ash and spotted gum veneer.
HOUSE House attempts to dismantle the traditional mould of residential high-density living through its new proposal of vertical connection. Successfully displaying how rethinking the expected and patterned response to growing population and increased pressure on land value, Austin Maynard Architects ask the wider public to perhaps rethink how we all could change the way we live. This house shows how the existing urban fabric can be retained and rejuvenated and proposes how, through an evolved lens, the future of high-density living in our Australian cities could unfold.