Designing this house for my brother was like working with a large building committee where your mother is the chairman and your sister-in-law is the project manager. – Min
The client happens to be Min’s brother. It is a small house with a land locked site; accessed only via a 3.5 m lane. The architect was consulted before the land was bought – questions were raised about the lack of frontage and the usual concerns about privacy and overlooking by neighbours.
The secluded and hidden site meant several things: no need to fit in with the streetscape and a high level of privacy. The lack of street views and the oversupply of backyard vistas were the main concerns. Like a child left to his own resources, he must find ways to amuse himself and occupy his own time.
With this in mind, the planning of the house revolved around the need to create its own points of interest and views. The long narrow drive into the house compound is a processional space, revealing the house slowly. The front of the house reveals little of the living spaces beyond – the soft centre of the single storey family and dining rooms. This is intended to prolong the experience of a relatively small house.
Budget constraints dictated the planning of the house which is based on the concept of a core house containing the kitchen, the staircase, toilets and laundry spaces. The living and bedroom spaces were simply organised around this core.
The small budget also meant a simple roof form over the main house: the gable roof was chosen to enable better lighting and ventilation at roof level. To achieve this, the ceiling of the upper floor is vaulted, thus making the rooms taller and easier for air to circulate. Eaves, ceiling and insulation were deemed unnecessary, therefore omitted.
Upstairs, the rooms are laid out in a row with the master bedroom at one end and an activity space at the other, with tall sliding windows used to allow cooling for children playing or sleeping on the floor.
Despite the lack of frontage and restricted by a small budget, this house manages to project an expansive persona that offers a variety of interesting spaces within the house.