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House of the Month // December 2014

I’ve come across Wolveridge Architects quite a bit recently, and am almost consistently found to be entirely won-over by their elegantly restrained forms and wonderful materials palette. Indeed, I have to say that it’s quite rare that I find myself drawn to a piece of contemporary architecture as a result of a distinct sense of warmth emanating from within (seems, in some ways, a bit of an oxymoron; contemporary and warmth..), but it is true of the works of Wolveridge Architects, and especially so in the case of their Eltham South house.

Eltham South House by Wolveridge Architects

It won’t take much for me to explain the appeal here; this is a matter of simple, effective planning founded upon a fundamental understanding of residential architectural requirements, layered with a deliberate and at once exploratory approach to materiality, resulting in an overriding sense of perfectly delivered laid-back calm. What more a weekender could require – I simply do not know!

The project is located on a site that slopes away to the south at the rear of the block. As a result, the main floor living areas open to a generous, north-facing semi-walled garden at the front of the site. These living areas are set well back from the street frontage and have a distinctly private feel which effectively permeates the entirety of the house. This front garden space not only provides a welcome layer of privacy, as well as an utterly usable garden space that flows deftly between inside and out therefore evoking a real feeling of almost camp-like simplicity and interconnectednes, but also allows maximum solar access to the living areas that stretch almost the width of the site. As a result, these spaces are open, inviting, and restful.

Meanwhile, the sleeping areas located to the rear of the block are substantially elevated above the ground level, and are accessed by an elegantly fenestrated hall, its play between lightness and dark extending and adding to the sense of retreat that begins to unfold immediately upon traversing the entry promenade that runs along the northwestern side of the block. The rooms that are beyond the threshold of this hall are decidedly quiet, dark, and private, and entirely contrary to the house’s public spaces which openly invite and instigate human gathering.

When I think about it like this, I realise that what I like so much about this refined little place is that it is really a campsite; extruded, extrapolated, and made permanent. The all-pervasive summertime mood being a direct result of this [intentional or not] underlying concept, and it works so effectively in ensuring minimum built form and maximum human comfort.

All photographs from Wolveridge Architects, by Derek Swalwell
plan

Main floor plan

section

Site section showing the walled garden to the right, living areas in the center, and sleeping areas to the left.

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The entry and the blade walls which screen and frame the north facing garden.

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Entry and the transition between inside and out.

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Layered spaces mean a gradually shifting sense of interior and exterior space, blurring the lines between inside and out.

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Looking back toward the entry at the west of the site.

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The kitchen, living and dining spaces are reminiscent of the campsite, with large openings to the sides and ample filtered light.

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The mirrored kitchen splashback cleverly reflects the garden, bringing the outside in.

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The screened secondary outdoor living area to the east of the site.

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The eastern facade of the house, the living areas to the right and the secluded sleeping areas to the left.

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Hall to the sleeping quarters, with the laundry in cabinetry on the left.

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One of the cavernous bathrooms.

 

Poppy

About the Author:

Our principle designer Poppy is a Masters of Architecture graduate from the University of Newcastle, Australia. She graduated in 2013 with First Class Honours, received the Dean's Medal and was awarded the Australian Institute of Architects NSW Chapter Masters of Architecture Graduate of the Year prize. In 2010, Poppy received the Eric Parker Travelling Scholarship encouraging the research and drawing of architecture.

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