Approachable and Light-footed – Three House by John Ellway
Paddington, QLD, Australia

Photography Toby Scott
Architecture John Ellway
Interior Design John Ellway
Words Bronwyn Marshall
Landscaping Studio Terrain

Elevated above the site, Three House takes influence from the client’s Malaysian heritage and fuses site specific vernacular elements that bind the similar conditions. John Ellway combines an operable and open approach in proposing a home that embraces its siting and aims to work with the natural elements.

Heritage commonly contributes to the present, as through conditioning ideals and a nostalgic connection to place. In the case of Three House, the clients’ Malaysian heritage also binds another element: climate. Taking influence from the vernacular of homes in Penang, the resulting residence sits in inner-city Brisbane, in Paddington, sharing a similar climate and faced with similar site constraints. The need to elevate the home allows the heavy rain and sloping site to remain uninterrupted and for the home to avoid consequential impacted damage. Through referencing similar solutions abroad, John Ellway replaces the existing fibre-cement cottage on site with a raised form that opens and allows a dialogue with its climate and surrounds, while appropriately addressing context.

The changing sizes of the volumes and their subtleties creates a sense of journey, while a humble and restrained approach to detailing ensures a compatibility with the surrounding properties and a common casualness of the home.

Built by PJL Projects, together with integrated landscaping by Studio Terrain, the open approach of the home needed a matched holistic methodology in ensuring the entire site read as one. The way in which the courtyard and landscaped spaces functioned needed to act an extension of the home, with permeable pavement and adequate integrated drainage systems to control water run-off. Keeping in tune with the surrounding character, the roof silhouette was already dictated, while the positioning of the verandah element and use of lightweight timber cladding was also prescribed, ensuring new additions felt conducive with the surrounds.

Split into three distinct volumes, the formal approach of the home is reminiscent of the pre-war homes in the area, with distinct features carried over. Sitting on thin stilt structural elements the volumes sit higher and with increased access to natural light, while their elevation also allows for additional amenity and a cross-functionality of use to occur underneath. Through both the construction and palette, as well as the operable façade elements that slide open to allow natural ventilation through the home, there is a lightness throughout. The changing sizes of the volumes and their subtleties create a sense of journey, while a humble and restrained approach to detailing ensures a compatibility with the surrounding properties and a common casualness of the home

Approachable and light-footed, Three House sits elevated as if positioned between branches.

Approachable and light-footed, Three House sits elevated as if positioned between branches. John Ellway utilises a rationalised structural approach to simplify the teetering home and, in the process, connects meaningfully to the dynamic climatic conditions of the site.

Published 10 June, 2021
Photography  Toby Scott
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