Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Lockyer House in Brisbane, Australia by Shaun Lockyer Architects
March 1st, 2012 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Shaun Lockyer Architects
The “Lockyer House” is a small, contemporary extension onto a post war house in Bardon, a heavily treed and hilly fringe suburb in Brisbane. The design looks to address two primary architectural issues, the first is about context and language, the second is about finding the “essence” of what is needed from an accommodation/ resource perspective in an effort to create a engaging but practical and economical outcome.
The extension is essentially a “pod” added onto the end of a post war house which, while largely leaving the original house in tact, allows for the overall outcome to be reprogrammed. The architecture is unapologetic in its overt, contemporary nature that sits in stark contrast to the original. Notwithstanding this bold move, the original proportions and integrity of the cottage are left in tact to preserve the virtue of both.
The planning, layout and architecture of the space is about the family, the connection to the landscape and the engagement with the sky. The space was to address the cold winters and to allow for increased summer breezes, both of which were inadequate in the original cottage.
The extension was an experiment in achieving a qualitative outcome at a very low cost. The process afforded a relatively high degree of craft and joy in what is essentially a very simple, easy to construct little box.
1. Conceptual Framework
The design of this house is all about creation of a simple, cost effective “pod” that needed to accommodate the needs of a young family that had outgrown the original cottage. The other core function of the extension was to improve the connection to the landscape, engage with the sky and to provide a more climatically comfortable place to live, using the minimum resources possible to achieve this. The space is about joy.
2. Public and Cultural Benefits
The retention of the old cottage preserves cultural and architectural identity and more basically public expectation. The contemporary extension, while highly visible from the street, is partly concealed by the large tree on the site and gives over the landscape zone to the public realm. The house is highly animated at night forming a “lantern” that creates a sense of joy in the street for all.
3. Relationship of Built Form to Context
The extension is a bold juxtaposition with the existing post war cottage. The form of the extension is highly contrasted while the material and colours play a more sympathetic role by referencing the vernacular. The extensive use of glass to the street allows for a minimal palette of materials to be expressed and reinforces the idea of old and new.
4. Program Resolution
The need to be highly economical and sustainable, as well as being able to live in the house while building, determined a large degree of the planning. The extension houses the primary living area, kitchen and flexible room that functions as a study, guest bed and in the longer term, the main bed.
5. Integration of Allied Disciplines
The outcome of this project is a reflection of a supportive and positive building process where the client and architect are one and the builder has had along association with the architect. Trust was there and the process allowed for boundaries to be pushed but in a cost effective and efficient way. The process was collaborative, experimental at times but cost effective and a great deal of fun.
6. Cost/Value Outcome
Due to a protracted period of design and collaboration with the builder, the costs were brought right down by virtue of the risk and complexity being removed. By virtue of this we were able to build this house at just over $1700/m2.(Aus)
7. Sustainability/ Environmental Consideration
There was a concerted effort in this design to address first principal design as there was no budget for “bells and whistles”. By virtue of having lived on the site for 6 years, we understood the sun, breezes, views etc which allowed us to tailor the space to make best use of light, air and amenity. Recycled and FSC timber (mostly), energy lighting, high spec insulation and fans were used. There is no air-conditioning.
Where possible the house has limited the use of applied materials. The ceiling under the mezzanine is the structural floor (as with the entry space) which not only shows off the structure but reduces the amount of resources used. The external cladding is also a environmental ply product rather than cement or fibre based product.
The space has also been designed to collect as much winter sun as possible to improve occupant comfort through the cooler winter months. All the material removed prior to building has been reused on the completed extension.
8. Response to Client and User needs
The challenge for this brief was to design a very small but sustainable space that could transform the use of a small house to meet the needs of a growing family. Allowing for flexibility in the brief and spaces to allow the house to “evolve” into the future was critical. Consideration of housing aging parents (abroad) and dealing with future needs of teenage kids all played a factor in the design, which so far is working out very well!
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