MODO Architecture

Tunnel House

Hawthorn, VIC, Australia

Rebecca Wilkinson

  • Hawthorn, VIC, Australia
  • 143m2
Project Year
  • 2015
  • Hawthorn, VIC, Australia

The renovation of a double fronted heritage Victorian Cottage in Hawthorn.

After a briefing session with the home owners of the cottage, designers from MODO Architecture identified the client’s need for a modern renovation to the existing house which reflected a lifestyle revolving around their garden and spending their days outdoors as much as possible.

As the existing house didn’t utilise the exterior as well as it could and completely faces the south, the central body of the house is dark most of the year. So, the first approach was to remove the awkward rear lean-to design of the house, and instead of extending from the existing house, MODE Architecture opted to build a stand-alone structure at the front of the house and connect the two spaces with a passageway.

Conceptually, this then allowed the two-built form to contrast their individual form and characteristics, creating an architectural design which provides a clear distinction between the old and the new.

Spatially, the new stand-alone living at the rear opens the central body of the site to create a north facing courtyard. With this new planning strategy designers were able have a new north facing rear living area, which allows for an abundance of natural light to flood the previous dark spaces of the front of the house, and also creates an active garden courtyard.

The new living area is now nestled between the rear garden and the new courtyard, creating a design which physically embeds the clients in between the garden, where previously they were only next to it.

The tunnel which leads you through into the new living zone and forms the central courtyard. is designed to communicate the transition between the old and new zones and is formed in salvage brick and a glazed sliding door.

The brick portion of the tunnel is designed to subtly compress the space down before releasing the clients into a high and light led living room. The bricks also gives a sense of weight, density and coolth, which when walking through, also momentarily shields your senses, and similar to the physical spatial release you get from the squeeze, you also get sensory release into the new living area and courtyard.

Other additions to the renovation of this house include a new kitchen, pantry, dining, living, bath and laundry. Unlike the brick tunnel, the concept of theses addition is to borrow qualities you may find in a park pavilion.

Rather than creating a wall space with windows and doors punched out, designers decided to mirror it and place objects (black boxes), lines (structure) and planes (roof) to hold the space, with the spaces between glazed.

By reversing this approach, they were able to visually open the living areas to the garden, with the ‘walls’ now being part of the garden itself, which subtly changes throughout the day, evening and season.

The roof form kicks up form an asymmetrical butter y roof, the combination of the raked ceiling and high windows softly diffuses the natural light down into the space and to gently lift the space up.

The ceiling continues to diff use light in the evening, a set of track lights are designed to bounce light back down into the living areas, the ceiling helps to soften the light while also create quite a sculptural element in the evening.

The Void, is the garden space between the spaces, there is 4 sets of sliding doors which are designed to slide away completely which is used to enhance the ‘pavilion’ concept.

With the doors fully opened, the interior space becomes incredibly permeable and invites the garden through the space and to become the ‘hero’ of the story.

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