built environment; to raise questions as much as it is to finding solutions. The
project is a critique on our cultural attitudes and how we determine them.
A critique on what we consider to be of heritage significance and how to
narrate such ideas in a critical and contemporary manner.
Is the symbolism and the idea more important than the architectural consequence
We challenge the idea that small inner city blocks cannot respond to complex
contextual constraints such as orientation, sustainability, innovative urban infill
planning controls and heritage restrictions. Instead of negotiating with these so
called ‘constraints’, we utilised them as areas of possibility and exploration for our
design processes and discourse.
This once vacant site is nestled at the eastern bookend between a row of
single fronted Victorian terraces and a double fronted Edwardian
weatherboard house. Our strategy was to critique and respond to our ongoing
research into the terrace typology. We concluded that this demand and
attraction for such a housing model has a stronger link with romanticized
nostalgia rather than of good design with the emphasis residing on the
symbolism of the ornamental facade, which dictates “the neighbourhood
character” instead of responding to it.
Our strategy was to break down the elements of the terrace house, and to
critique and respond. Respond to the terrace house’s inability to address solar
orientation, the poor linear program that is constantly remodelled with
predictable repetitive and limited planning to achieve some sort of link
between the active habitable space and the external private open space
and the lack of natural light and ventilation into the house.
Public and Private realm and redefining its boundaries, Solar Orientation,
environmental sustainability and the programming of the plan.
The built form is essentially an urban infill within a very small
5.5×14.4m envelope. The perforated house is our response to
establish an alternative language to the accepted notion of our
cultural attitude towards critical questions of identity and
We were interested in retaining the ‘idea’ and the ‘symbolism’
of the terrace but elevating the gesture to an ironic or even
satirical level to engage in a public debate. The irony is manifested through the
idea that it’s only through the absence of matter, that through perforation; the
idea of the symbol of the terrace house is manifested rather than a physical
reproduction of terrace house.
We wanted the house to be more than just a façade. More than just a message or
a graphic stuck to a building. Our building was not an urban canvas paying tribute
to Venturi’s “decorated shed”, instead the external facade could be experienced
internally and is also a multi functional device that constantly transforms the built
form from solid to void, from private to public, from opaque to translucent. By day
the building is heavy and reflective and by night inverting into a soft translucent
permeable light box. The operable wall or the absence of the façade enabled us
to remove the idea that houses are static.
change the experience and environment. This architectural manipulation of space
blurred the boundaries between inside and outside, the public and private realm.
The manipulated spaces overlapped and borrowed the amenity and context of its
surrounding environment. The plan inverts the traditional terrace program with the
active living zones on the first floor opening onto a north facing terrace thereby
generating a primary northerly orientation to a south facing block.
The perforated house incorporates passive sustainable interventions by
orientating north glass bifolds doors and louvers for cross ventilation as the
primary means of cooling. In addition, solar hot water and 5 star rated
sanitary ware fixtures were incorporated. The north facing terrace
redefines the “aussie” backyard reinforced by the childlike mural
reminiscing on a past era and making commentary on the changing
demography of the family unit and ultimately the inner city house typology.