Form, Materiality and the Traditional Roof Silhouette - Pleated House by Megowan Architectural
Highett, VIC, Australia
A play on the traditional roofline silhouette, Pleated House sees a contemporary expression of materiality and form combine to create a sense of the familiar. Christopher Megowan of Megowan Architectural speaks to their process.
Infusing a sense of the familiar, Pleated House is a direct expression of its form and function combined. A play on the traditional residential typology, the roofline is expressed rather than concealed. The internal vaulted ceilings then fully encase this void to create a feeling of vastness, and to maximise the internal experience. Built by Kieron Christ for a well-travelled plumber and design-conscious couple, the play on form was inevitable. Christopher Megowan speaks to their approach to the extension to the existing one-storey dwelling, and the references to its context. He says, “it’s an homage to the folded roof forms familiar to mid-century modernism (Donald Wexler, Barry Berkus and Pierre Koenig) and the iconic bathing boxes which dot Port Phillip Bay.”
The fold itself, which comprises the pleat, is formed by a process of applying heat, which allows for the material to become malleable. These folds and peaks allow for windows and additional glazing to be added throughout. Christopher says, “the six different shaped clerestory windows were a key strategy to addressing the day lighting issues inherent in a south-facing rear yard.” By creating increased opportunities for surface area to carve into, the allowable amount of controlled natural light increased also. The trough part of the pleat was also essential, and Christopher adds, “the central valley of the roof form was centered on the existing entry to the home, thus framing a view to the family (and dog) sized rear yard.”
Infusing a sense of the familiar, Pleated House by Megown Architectural is a direct expression of its form and function combined.
As a nod to the existing weatherboard features of the home, the decision to use a ship-lapped cypress timber was deliberate. The charring, which as Christopher says, “was done by one of the clients in the backyard during the construction,” allows for a delineation between the existing and the new elements of the build. Christopher adds, “the charred time was chosen to relate but contrast to the existing where the cladding was brought into the veranda structure and garage extension to create a link yet still differentiate between old and new.” There is a sense of modesty and familiarity in the materiality and its application, which adds to the inherent character.
“It’s an homage to the folded roof forms familiar to mid-century modernism and the iconic bathing boxes which dot Port Phillip Bay.”
Designed to be, as Christopher says, “barely visible from the street,” the extension was envisioned as a light-filled open plan space, where functionality could be altered as needed. He adds, “the grooved ceilings and kitchen joinery create a link between the interior and the external cladding, where the ribs in the ceiling highlight the folding roof forms overhead.” A combination of charred cypress and silvertop ash allow for a neutral palette that connects the existing to the extension. The interconnection of patina and aging of materiality was also key to the direction of materiality for the exterior. While the cypress was aged and distressed manually, the silvertop was selected to, as Christopher says, “allow to great to a neutral silver” over time.
Pleated House is essentially a play on contrasts, but with subtle connections through materiality, old and new and geometries. With a relatively loose brief, and a willing client, Megowan Architectural was able to experiment with form and materiality. As a studio, Christopher describes them as being “not married to any one particular style or language”, which then, “allows us to respond to client’s briefs and adapt our aesthetic to fit context.” Being flexible themselves has allowed for this play on form, as an expression and commentary on a familiar residential silhouette and reflect a sense of imbued personality.