The site is located in the dense inner city suburb of Clifton Hill. The client approached us to create two new town houses, replacing the dilapidated dwellings that had previously occupied the site.

The clients being both keen gardeners with a passion for the environment, were very keen that the dwellings be highly sustainable with a strong solar access that also connected well with the outdoor spaces. Being very social, there was also a wish that the houses interacted well with each other, and provided a variety of different moments that allowed for different forms of social activity and entertainment, as well as engagement with neighbours.

One of the initial major challenges for the site was the significant slope which ran from the front to rear, north to south, approximately 4.0 metres across the whole property. With both lots being quite long and narrow as well, we were presented with some fairly unique parameters for which to achieve the brief of highly interconnected internal / external spaces, and strong northerly orientation. The most effective way of managing our site and solar ambitions was to carve out a central zone in the house for a courtyard. This vegetated central courtyard area means that the rear living spaces can have a significant amount of northern light whilst also allowing for effective cross flow ventilation and night time purging.

A Lower Ground floor level is then tucked back at the rear, as is the upper floor which is setback as not to overshadow the primary outdoor space of the courtyards.

Other drivers for the project was thermal performance. With the client keen to avoid mechanical heating and cooling as much as possible, it was critical that the dwelling be very highly insulated with a tight building fabric and a strong thermal mass. This is achieved with the use of insulated concrete slab on ground, and suspended concrete slab for the Ground Floor. Reverse brick veneer wall system has been designed for all external walls, which is then insulated externally and clad with reconstituted timber.

Despite the extremely poor condition of the previous dwellings, the client was keen to reuse anything they could to reduce demolition land waste. Therefore all the brickwork has been retained and will be used as part of the reverse brick veneer throughout. In addition, much of the previous dwelling has been relocated to Harmers, Victoria where the materials are being transformed into a new dwelling for the client's family. 

Project Team: Chris Barnes, Nick Crawford
To be completed: 2017