This project is family home for a couple and their 3 young boys, on a small 400m2 sub-division with a narrow west facing frontage and upper story views to the Swan River to the north.
Conceptually the house both addresses the street while providing a series of private interlinked living spaces opening onto a north facing courtyard. These spaces are connected by a dramatic single run staircase to the bedroom and play spaces on the upper two floors.
These upper spaces were designed to capture the distant views of the Swan River – in the manner of a lookout, with the apertures to the view being framed by anodised aluminium screens to prevent views onto the neighbouring roof. The form of this “lookout tower” was inspired in part by the strong formal shapes of the artillery spotting towers at Rottnest- a destination shared by both the Architects and the Client/family.
As one moves through the spaces from ground to the 3rd floor verandah the intent is that of a feeling of moving from an introverted retreat to an aery viewing platform to the river and world beyond.
Applecross has undergone a dramatic change from a between-the-wars California Bungalow suburb to a gentrified “MacMansion” suburb- dominated by faux-Tuscan Villa developments and lack-luster homogenous design.
The Clients and Architects shared a vision to produce a home that was a counterpoint to the new Applecross suburbia- and one that would present more than just a double-garage door to the street.
The carport is left deliberately open allowing the space to be used for outdoor activities by their 3 young sons and friends, and the upper 2 stories cantilever over the ground floor creating an entry verandah- bringing life to the street.
The use of a simple “Cappuccino” brick with matching mortar falls within the same tone palate of the beige brick of Applecross but the Modernist block form deliberately avoids the use of cement render to avoid the homogenous look. The brick use and Modernist form have a dialogue with the remnant 1960s buildings.The existing tree has been nursed through the building process and performs a foreground role and casts shadows on the west façade in the afternoon sun.
This mini-tower house had core sustainability values underpinning the design decisions: the three stories allows for optimum use of the “stack effect” where air is naturally drawn up the 10m chimney formed by the staircase well allowing for night cooling.
The simple face brick skin is insulated and the windows and doors are double glazed to minimise heat transfer.
The house has a solar hot water system, rainwater collection and re-distribution to the toilets, and a grey water system providing irrigation to the lawns and garden beds.
Materials have been selected for low maintenance longevity, and all paints and adhesives are now VOC.
Floor finishes are from polished concrete and local recycled jarrah- supplied by Fremantle Timber Traders.