Contemporary Collage – James Hardie x Preston Lane

Words by Sarah Sivaraman
Architecture by Preston Lane

Preston Lane has collaborated with James Hardie to extend on a classic Edwardian terrace, connecting the structure to the natural elements outside. The project uses Hardie™ Fine Texture Cladding to create an unexpected scene in a suburban Melbourne laneway.

This collaboration is one in a series that James Hardie has undertaken to showcase the versatility of Hardie™ Fine Texture Cladding within an architectural context. While the project is hypothetical only –with the design being rendered rather than physically built – the potential applications of the material and its effects are substantial. As such, Directors of Preston Lane Nathanael Preston and Daniel Lane approached the brief with rigour, responding to the human, environmental and social aspects of the site.

Privacy is established in a number of ways through the extension, which has the visual effect of a collage; multiple shapes existing in energetic harmony.

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The typical terrace residence is a long narrow site, running east to west, with a laneway along its northern edge. Preston Lane seized the opportunity to leverage the northern light and its surrounding context into the home, as Nathanael explains that a primary consideration was “how we navigate[d] that interface between the house and the lane… the private and the public.” He set about finding a balance between opportunities to utilise the lane, connecting the house with the neighbourhood and ensuring privacy for the occupants.

Privacy is established in a number of ways through the extension, which has the visual effect of a collage; multiple shapes existing in energetic harmony. The courtyard is screened by a solid garden wall, as well as landscaping that layers in texture. The living room sits slightly higher than ground level and looks out onto the lane. “When we’re working with small inner city blocks, it’s so important to be able to draw your eye from inside to the outside,” says Nathanael. “We’re sort of borrowing space, or the perception of space, from the laneway so that when you’re sitting at that dining table looking out to the north, [you feel as though] the laneway is part of the house.”

Above the living area, a bedroom also opens onto the lane though, from the outside, it is obscured from view by a dynamic, zig-zagging wall. The wall uses Hardie™ Fine Texture Cladding to create pockets of light and shadow across the building. Making the most of the material, Preston Lane used 1200 millimetre wide panels of Hardie™ Fine Texture Cladding, cut vertically in half to form a concertina façade. Nathanael explains that the beauty of this process is in its simplicity. “It looks a bit complex, but it’s actually very standard,” he says. “All of those angles are 90 degrees, using the new Hardie™ 9mm Aluminium External Slimline Corner.” Similarly simplifying things is the pre-sealed, pre-textured surface of the fibre cement panelling. These being fixed and painted results in less labour after construction.

The rhythm of the wall is repeated below in the courtyard where the Hardie™ Fine Texture Cladding concertina continues seamlessly into a glass wall of the same shape. Above this, the flat, second storey wall facing the courtyard features a subtle v-groove that is formed by the interconnecting shiplaps of each panel. This groove quietly echoes the detail of the concertina below. When viewed from the laneway, the second storey seems to hover overhead like an abstract cloud. The fine render surface of the Hardie™ Fine Texture Cladding, along with the lines of the concertina and the shadows cast within it, contribute to the chorus of urban textures; corrugated fencing, laneway cobble stones, red brick walls and meanderings vines. A scene humming with contemporary energy.

For Architects and Designers who want to learn more about Hardie™ Fine Texture Cladding and its accessories, please order the Hardie™ Fine Texture Sample & Accessory Kit here.