Ben Callery Architects
Melbourne, VIC, Australia
The Lean-2 house by Ben Callery Architects puts a new spin on the fusion of quirky and quant modern contemporary architecture.
Designers Ben Callery Architects created a unique space of quirky and quant architectural elements of a typical lean-to design, with a compact but spacious second lean-to design to an existing house with a difficult orientation.
‘In the age of social media, where everything is emphasised by images, encouraging consumption, size and excess, this house celebrates modesty of scale and quality of space and simplicity of materials.’
The classic Australian lean-to design of three walls and a single pitched roof abutting a taller existing building as an appendix to the original, can often get progressively get smaller. And despite their modest scale and tight spaces, they can offer some positives, which are worth re-interpreting into a modern architectural design.
Once-external cladding becomes the internal lining boards, and previously external windows become internalised, creating interesting views and connections between rooms throughout the house.
‘They are inherently low and compact in design, providing many cosy intimate spaces within the house. And their visual bulk is diminutive, resulting in negligible overshadowing on its own backyard.’
The clients of the house, a young family of four, needed more space for their family to grow, and wished for better flexibility throughout, which would allow the house to adapt to the changing needs, whilst accommodating for visiting and creating a better connection throughout the house; both on the inside and the outside.
Designers retained the existing high-pitched roof over the front four rooms and the low adjoining roof form of the original lean-to. The Lean-2 house adopts the classic single pitch skillion roof, rather than having the roof tucked under the existing one.
This then projects high over it, creating a clerestory highlight window to get sun down into the new living rooms for extra natural light to be spread throughout.
Designers also inserted a north-west facing courtyard, which is a compact but sunny occupiable outdoor space, with its operable folding arm awning, allowing for it to adapt to all seasons throughout the year.
The courtyard facilitates cross views from the man living space into the flexible studio space across the courtyard. This replicates the sense of views through rooms typical of lean-tos but meets the contemporary need for passive interaction between occupants allowing them to supervise and be in contact while not necessarily in the same room.
The roof form, 4m high at the northern end, takes dramatically downwards to be only 2.7m at the southern end, replicating that modest sense of scale and negligible visual bulk from the back yard which is so important on a site with this orientation.
The materials are modest and domestic but honest, natural and robust. Concrete floor, plywood ceiling, timber windows, exposed rafters, recycled brick pavers and folding arm awnings are all part of the vernacular of the lean-to but put together in a refined way to elevate them from simple domestic construction.
Photography by Jack Lovel.