St Kilda West House / Kennedy Nolan Architects
Source 22-07-2015Leave a Comment

Our task in designing this house was to accommodate a family on a sloping site – long and relatively narrow and incorporating an existing Victorian house.  We also needed to ensure that the highly serviced building minimised energy use through passive solar design.

Whilst the accommodation requirements and the shape, orientation and terrain of the site largely determined the formal arrangement of the house, the articulation of the fabric and the detail design were generated from both the passive solar methods employed and more significantly, our Client’s request that the architecture reflect their extensive time living in various parts of Asia.

We were conscious of avoiding a literal or thematic depiction of ‘Asian’ architecture, so the connections are subtle and characterised by a minimal palette of colour, texture and form and an attempt to reference the qualitative aspects of Asian architecture rather than obvious visual representations.

The double courtyard form utilised in this project resulted from a response to the site context and programmatic imperatives. The courtyard typology is a well-established method of overcoming poor orientation and dealing with long and narrow sites utilising passive solar principles.  In this house, the twocourtyards facilitate gradations of privacy, emphasises our intentions with respect to zoning, deal with the problem of swimming pool fences and supports our desire for an interior/exterior enfilade through the site.

The best sustainability benefit to this house is delivered by the courtyards in that passive solar principles of northern orientation and cross ventilation can be afforded to nearly all zones of the house.  When coupled with thermally efficient building fabric, photo-voltaic energy plant and on-site water storage, the house achieves a good outcome for the environment. Structural and Civil Engineering enabled us to incorporate both the swimming pool and water storage into the fabric of the building such that the external areas could realise their potential through collaboration with a Landscape Architect. That the house functions effectively for a family with frequent guests and supports both family life and individual privacy is a satisfying outcome for us. The significant achievement however, is the unexpected narrative that the house offers once through the front door. There is a sense of space unfolding and the suggestion of more at every turn. There is also a quietness in this house, a stillness and sense of retreat from the city – perhaps the most essential link to Asia.



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