Layering its many eras and expressing its connection across differing architectural periods, true to its name, Union House creates a sense of unity under the one roof. Austin Maynard Architects dissects the traditional and reconstructs the less conventional in creating an appropriately matched home for an energetic and growing young family.
Despite not having a heritage or contributory overlay, Union House embraces its original Dutch gable façade and wraps the new around the old, restoring and celebrating the past. As a vertical solution to its narrow site, the resulting home sees layers of functionality and less conventional paths of movement unfold, combining considered sustainable principles and an embodied sense of difference. Home to a young growing family of five, the adopted approach was to ensure the building reflected its occupants, instead of the typical and more commonly tread path of attempting to mould to a pre-existing space. As a celebration of the eras it houses and the history of the site, the home acknowledges the previous narratives while creating space for the conjuring of new ones. Austin Maynard Architects brings a playful rigour in methodology, reconsidering the traditional and in turn proposing an engaged and active residential condition.
Built by CBD Consulting and with landscapes by Bush Projects, Union House sits within the tightly packed inner urban locale of Melbourne’s Fitzroy North and does little to conceal its newness. While still acknowledging the detail and craft of the original facade, unlike its many neighbours, the new is not deliberately hidden from the streetscape. In its own way, it opposes the suppression of the contemporary and makes its own comment on the need for older heritage homes to be adapted to align with a changed way of life. This same philosophy of expression is shown through the stacking of vertical layers on site to achieve the required brief. Sitting between its narrow 5.5m wide site, the volume houses four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a study, basement, roof deck and garage. The utilisation of moveable walls, sliding doors and voids allows for cross functionality and for the home to work with its family while being open to change, as needed.
After deliberating over a number of solutions for the site, the chosen approach was selected for its playful and curious nature. While the internal black perforated metal stair offers a clear vertical path upward, the idea to create alternate routes of movement was also integrated into the fabric of the home. Allowing a path from the basement through to the roof, a series of mechanisms such as a ramp, glazed trap door, climbing holds and nets all allow the three teenage boys an outlet for interaction with the building that matched their own contributing energy. Internally, the combination of warming timber ply, painted and raw recycled brickwork, polished concrete, plaster, ceramic tiles and timber flooring sees switches in finishes that match each space’s level of activity.
As a vertical solution to its narrow site, the resulting home sees layers of functionality and less conventional paths of movement unfold, combining considered sustainable principles and an embodied sense of difference.
Union House is an efficient home, both in its vertical stack of comprising elements and it its employment of CLT (Cross Laminated Timber) wall and ceiling construction, offering minimised time on site for construction. Austin Maynard Architects injects a welcomed liveliness and as a result matches the energy of the clients handsomely.