“The message in the bottle is to be innovative without forgetting the past and context,” Simon Cookes.
Neither a default architectural box nor a default residential pitched roof house, the Port Melbourne Townhouses by Duckbuild are an inventive take on the urban residential building diagram, showcasing artistic flair without sacrificing on cost, utility and sustainability.
The project consists of two side-by-side townhouses that are neighboured by those aforementioned residential models; a two storey brick box to the left and a single-storey weatherboard cottage with a hip-roof to the right. The larger and slightly wider townhouse has four bedrooms while the smaller unit has two.
Although when directly compared to its neighbours the project does look a little out of place, the architects say that its overt angles and planes encompass and respond to the overall housing mix on the street.
The building’s exterior materials aren’t all that unfamiliar to the Port Melbourne area either; they’re just facing ways and specified in places you might not expect.
A Trimdeck Colorbond roof in Woodland Grey (Colorbond’s most popular colour) was used for the roof-cum-façade on the largest of the street front boxes (bottom left), while recycled hardwood and bricks from the old house was used as cladding and soffit lining, and for the driveway paving and fencing respectively.
While by no means new or ground-breaking, these materials were carefully chosen by Duckbuild as part of their commitment to contributing art to the public realm in a sustainable and cost-effective manner.
In terms of the different and unfamiliar, the most striking and surprising elements of the building seen from the street have to be the extruded boxes and sun shading portals. The portals and boxes form the sculptural nature of the building but are also highly functional in that they are oriented to capture wanted northern light in the winter and shade from harsh heated sun in the summer.
The fascia of the second storey portals are clad in Alutile, a material more commonly specified for commercial builds.
Duckbuild didn’t compromise on thermal performance, choosing double glazed low-e glass (Sunergy) and thermally broken frames (AWS ThermalHeart) for their windows. Western facing windows are also covered in a tint film.
Inside the building, Duckbuild’s reference to context is more explicit, with the architects choosing a host of recycled, reclaimed and robust materials that are fitting associations for Port Melbourne.
The internal lining is a mix of timber veneers that were originally destined for boat use including Cherry and Oak timber veneers as well as Oriented Strand Board (OSB). Other materials that are usually reserved for exterior walls like concrete block and cement sheet also feature and are used in irregular fashion.
Stairs and light wells were situated by Duckbuild to accommodate the stack effect and stratification.
In keeping with the boat theme, Duckbuild custom designed their own LED pendants and lanterns from old wine bottles found under the original house. They arranged them to form a line of lanterns at the entrance corridor – not unlike street lights at the dock.
While the building is overtly artistic, the underlining principle of Duckbuild’s Port Melbourne Townhouses is the uncompromising commitment to designing sustainably and affordable housing.
Besides the extensive use of low maintenance and recycled materials, the architects chose other environmental products to provide for low ongoing building’s service costs. 6,000L of Waterplex underground rainwater tanks are connected to irrigation, washing machines and toilets; Solar Lord evacuated tubes provide solar hot and are backed by a natural gas system; Mitsubishi Lossnay heat exchange ventilation; and Brightgreen LED lamps are used all throughout the home.
The smaller three bedroom, two bathroom townhouse was costed at $480,000 for construction while the four bedroom, three bathrooms version was priced at $620,000 (approximately $4,200/sqm). Duckbuild says this is affordable for a Port Melbourne house that is low maintenance, cheap to run and comes with some bells and whistles.
Duckbuild have provided an artistic and refreshing contribution to the Port Melbourne streetscape without compromising on cost and sustainability. As the architects put it themselves: “the message in the bottle is to be innovative without forgetting the past and context.”
The project is in the running for the Victorian Architecture Awards in the Residential Architecture – Houses (new) category.
KEY PROJECT INFO
SUN-SHADING PORTAL FRAMES & FACADE ELEMENTS
DOUBLE GLAZED LOW-E GLASS
24mm IGU – 6mm Sunergy clear/ argon / clear (tint film applied to west glass)
AWS ThermalHeart - thermally broken aluminium frames
Woodland Grey Colorbond Trimdeck
HEAT EXCHANGE VENTILATION SYSTEM
RAINWATER HARVESTING SYSTEM
6000L of Waterplex underground rainwater tanks
EVACUATED TUBE SOLAR HOT WATER
Solar Lord evacuated tubes with 270L tanks gas boosted
INTERIOR TIMBER LINING
Cherry timber veneer, Oak timber veneer, Oriented Strand Board (OSB)
Cherry timber veneer
INTERIOR/EXTERIOR CEMENT SHEETING
CUSTOM LIGHT FITTINGS
by Duckbuild Architecture
OTHER LIGHT FITTINGS
Brightgreen D900 Cube V2