The Queensberry Street house occupies the site of a former cheese factory in the inner city suburb of North Melbourne. Designed as a residence for a couple, the dwelling is located within a context typified by an eclectic mix of building stock; to the east sits a three storey 1950's cream brick apartment block, to the west a two storey Victorian terrace house. The eastern boundary of the site is a mixture of brick warehouse buildings. The 1860's bluestone structure of St Mary's Anglican Church occupies the site immediately to the north on Queensberry Street.
The design adopts a material aesthetic that engages with its local context. The building is formally ambiguous, mediating between domestic and industrial typologies, such as the Victorian shop front and the suburban pavilion. The use of brickwork references the local streets; a panel of brickwork slides proud of the east façade to create a subtle shadow and define an edge; hit-and-miss perforated brickwork compositionally activates the façade, allowing glimpses into the interior through to the layered spaces within, simultaneously enabling filtered views to the exterior.
While entry is achieved from the side lane, the traditional front corner store entry remains a trace. Here it is rendered mute, formalised as a galvanised sheet steel surface. The glazed portion is reminiscent of Victorian highlight windows and provides framed views to the spire of St. Mary's, but purposely restricts the view to the street. The sense of remnant buildings pervades, with traces found in the deep verandah to the first floor and the courtyard. In the architect's view, the southern terrace retains a sense of the Victorian balcony removed to the rear of the building.
The house's structure is typically load bearing cavity brickwork at ground floor level, with brick veneer to the first floor. Steel framing supports glazed areas and high level brickwork to the courtyards, first floor terraces and the first floor "pavilion" that is located at the southern end of the composition. The exposed concrete soffit of the first floor slab forms the ground floor ceiling. Devoid of stand-down beams, the slab is rendered purely formal within the building's internal arrangement. Tectonically, the structure is held back to evince the nature and form of the construction as evidenced by the traces of formwork that once shaped the ground floor ceiling. The glazing system is fabricated from steel flats that are formed into complex steel window walls. These are softened by the use of dark stained timber sections to all operable doors and windows. The double glazing has an expanded cavity to enhance thermal and acoustic performance.
Subtle terracing of the ground floor slab is mirrored at the first floor level by the curated configuration of the ceiling plane. These architectural manoeuvres, coupled with a carefully composed plan arrangement of walls, sliding doors, curtains and subtle plan slippages construct spaces that expand and contract into one another rather than being defined by clearly delineated thresholds. The curtains act as spatial dividers, but also suggest the domestic sensibilities of the project, providing a sense of softness and warmth to contrast the apparent muscularity of the form and materials.
RAIA National Awards, Residential Architecture, Commendation 2012
RAIA (VIC) Awards, Harold Desbrowe-Annear Award for Residential Architecture 2012
AUSTRAL BRICKS, PRESSED BOWRAL BLUE
BLUESCOPE LYSAGHT, KLIPLOK 700 HI STRENGTH
JAMES HARDIE WALL & FLOOR PRODUCTS, VILLABOARD
CUSTOM BUILT STEEL POWDERCOATED
BLUESCOPE STEEL, 2000L SLIMLINE, COLORBOND IRONSTONE
OFF FORM CONCRETE FINISH
FITTINGS & FIXTURES
BENCHTOP CARRARA MARBLE
MIELE AUSTRALIA, INDUCTION COOKTOP, OVEN, RANGEHOOD, DISHWASHER, FRIDGE
ABEY AUSTRALIA, DAINTREE DOUBLE BOWL UNDERMOUNT
IDEAL STANDARD ACACIA WALL BASIN
DELTALITE, TRIMLESS LED DOWNLIGHT
ARTIMEDE, NUR MINI & NOTHING
JSB LIGHTING, MODULAR SURFACE
LOTIS TUBED XL