This compact residential commission requires a new carport and flexible living and study space on a steeply sloping site in Northbridge. The design strategy is to create a two storey compact box opens to the north, with a minimal footprint into the sandstone outcrop and landscape below. The choice of the cube as the formal solution for the project grows out of a strong interest in precedents in both art and architecture (minimalist art-Tony Smith 6 foot Die, Herzog and DeMeuron early projects) that illustrate how objects that are foreign or seemingly indifferent to their sites often had such powerful ways of engaging their setting. The 2 storey structure is sited to give the project a dual face: aiming to achieve the small scale presence of a carport from the street, while creating a more dramatic floating treehouse when view from the extensive garden below. Within the basic abstract form of the box the building attempts to introduce a series of material and textural variations into the experience of descending from the street into the garden.
For Andrew Burges, the project's real intrigue is the idea of working with compactness and tightness. The addition embodies these themes - it is a compact box placed like a foreign object in the landscape or above it. The scale of the building is small, like a weekender, its footprint deliberately minimal. The two-storey structure has a carport at the upper level, access directly from the street and below that, a flexible space that can be study, rumpus room and accommdation complete with small kitchen and bathroom. Working with the fall of the site, the building is supported by an innovative steel-tree structural solution. Angled steel columns support the house at each corner but all connect univocally at one point as they hit the gound. This minimises impact on the site and gives the house a sense of lightness. Constructed from welded steel mesh, the driveway becomes a bridge that connects the booundary to the carport. This open meshing admits light from above to the access walkway below the driveway, effortlessly reinforcing the concept of the structure floating above the site. The resolution of the lower level plan explores the idea of compactness in terms of interior space, trying to capture a scale somewhere between the caravan and the house. It borrows from miniaturized domestic interiors such as caravans and boats in two ways- firstly, by doubling up in uses of elements, with a Corian bench top functioning as a kitchen from one side (900mm) and a desk from the other (720mm) due to the step in the floor, and secondly, by providing a tightness of scale more familiar to the scale of boat interiors, as evident in the design of the bathroom. Downstairs study is a singular space dominated by a large window on the northern side. A sliding cavity window shutter opens to frame the view. By contrast, windows on the eastern and western walls are more slot-like in character, minimising solar penetration and maintaining privacy on both sides.
The sense is almost monastic, with the ceiling kept as the unfinished concrete slab above. A long day bed doubles as storage and seating along the northern wall. The material palette such as the clear-stained timber window frames and the narrow-stripped recycled blackbutt flooring gives warmth and the narrow patterned linear appearance. A distinctive feature of the downstairs space is its single joinery unit that doubles as kitchen benchtop and study desk. By stepping up the floor in the study area, Andrew effectively changes the height of the surface without interrupting it. This device gives a visual simplicity to the room but subtly differentiates the separate functions of the two zones.