Feng Shui House
Steffen Welsch Architects
Clifton Hill, VIC, Australia
This house was designed applying principles known as Feng Shui, a 6,000-year-old concept originating in China aiming to develop buildings and their surroundings for harmony and happiness. The outcome is a design for sun and fresh air, balanced natural light, comfort and privacy, balance of materials: overall a well-considered environment. The old terrace was restored, a new curved timber wall at the end of the hallway works as both a link between old and new and a barrier to the street. The extension is separated with a courtyard for sunlight into the old, and natural light and ventilation into the new house. The hall linking terrace with extension was widened for a study with outdoor access. The curved timber wall, enclosing a store, leads into the kitchen planned to greet visitors at arrival and overlooking courtyard and study. Behind the store a stair void appears. The back is coloured reflecting light into the space below. Colour and materials only reveal themselves gradually, a design move often applied by Mexican architect Louis Barragan and one of my favourites.
Between stair and kitchen, we placed the dining room, a busy, engaging and open space, designed to encourage conversation. The timber floor of the dining continues into the ceiling of the adjacent lounge, a retreat with a sense of calmness looking back into house, courtyard and out into the garden. The upstairs rooms, more exposed to sun, wind and rain are formed and finished to achieve a balance between shelter from elements and exploring views into the distance. Like any building project, the Feng Shui house aims to balance user needs with cost, both financial and environmental. To build climate conscious requires building less, and to be accepted we need to build better qualities with lesser means. We trust this has been achieved by applying principles of balance, meticulous planning and playing with space and scale.