Messy House

Project Status: Completed in 2007
Location: Glebe, NSW

Photography: Brett Boardman

AIA National Architecture Award, Shortlisted 2007

AIA NSW Architecture Award Houses – Alterations and Additions, 2007

This house was designed and built for my family (wife, two kids and myself). It was first named “the messy house” by my son Chris (three years old) who would refer to it as such due to how ‘messy’ it looked during construction. Perhaps he knew more and was referring to the way it was designed both in my office and on my drawing board.

The street is in a conservation area with many grand old houses, each with their own verandahs and living rooms fronting the street as they did in Victorian times. There are also some beautiful trees in the built landscape. I thought that the built form in the street could and should be respected in the new building by way of a roof-form and building base. The concept of a ‘verandah-like’ form could considered in a new idiom; the interiors and programmatic planning remain where originally built with living rooms face the street in a sort of internalised verandah. The large living area at the street frontage is availed the opportunity of a view of the tree canopy landscape by way of a horizontal box-window, framed top and bottom in solid elements like Ned Kelly’s mask.

A courtyard in the centre of the plan’s composition has a moving wall, which transforms a corridor into a verandah for the summer. The abundance of controlled natural light avoids the reliance on artificial lighting whilst the use of raw finishes and materials, such as off-form concrete and timber, further minimises the environmental impact. Natural cross ventilation with operable walls, hatches and vents reduces the need for space cooling. With all these little ideas I tried to respect the scale of the street whilst making a convenient and nice place to live for my family and I.