Garden Tower House
Garden Tower House
Meyer Consulting Engineers
Frank (Victoria) Pty Ltd
Melissa Bright | Studio Bright
Emily Watson | Studio Bright
DIRECTOR FOR DESIGN REALISATION
Rob Mcintyre | Studio Bright
Jaxon Webb, Maia Close | Studio Bright
Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung
Residential Architecture, Houses
The dense urban fabric of Cremorne is under intense development pressure, with huge whole-site-consuming developments towering over original workers’ cottages.
Within this context, and on a tight 144 sqm site, the resurrection of a dilapidated weatherboard Victorian could quite understandably be a surrender to the limitations of its traditional plan form and tricky site constraints.
A quick and direct fix-up was initially envisaged; however, something more ambitious evolved during the design process as our client grew in the belief that long-term programmatic needs could be satisfied on the site.
With a full house brief and no space, the need to build hard on boundaries and to project the plan upwards was a challenging necessity.
Issues of natural lighting, view outlook, privacy from/for neighbors, and negative off-site impacts are aggravated.
Garden Tower House has a singular, all-encompassing outer skin of breeze-block, employed to diffuse the boundary interface and moderate the two-way arm-wrestle between opportunity and detriment.
Externally, the tower elements appear bluff and veiled, mediating the private realm from the surrounding context. From inside, sunlight filters through, and views out are glimpsed through the myriad holes of the block pattern.
Two distinct newly built forms are identified behind the restored weatherboard street front element.
Their outlook is into sunny garden spaces that split their disposition down the site. The larger tower allows an upstairs retreat into a bedroom zone and an open roof deck above.
The smaller reaches up to bring daylight into a high-ceilinged living space. Linking the towers is a passage space that offers seating to enjoy the garden courtyard.
In such tight planning, every millimeter has to work hard to realize the programmatic potential and every wall surface needed to contribute to supporting family life.
The new study room inserted into the existing plan, for example, variously offers a workspace, spare bedroom, reading nook, or sports fans retreat. Spaces are small, but always aim for delight.
All the components of a full-sized house, water tank, solar panels, fireplace and flue, shed, and services have all been absorbed in the pursuit of visual clarity. The adjoining laneway is seconded into garden space with a sliding fence panel that borrows lateral space from the public realm.
At every opportunity, lush greenery is introduced in small pockets of planted areas that, in total, seek to offer verdant backyard surroundings where none are possible.
A vertical dimension to the planting sets up the whole building, its cavities, and surfaces, to be overtaken by climbing leafiness that eventually links gardens across all levels.
The ambition is that Garden Tower House will, over time, become increasingly attached to and embedded in nature, offering cooling and calming respite from the pressing urban context.