Forging ‘seamless links’ between the indoors and outdoors is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot when residential projects are being described, but there is probably no studio that takes this aim more seriously than Andrew Maynard Architects – a practice that deliberately left one of its houses incomplete.
“When a client tells us that they want a strong connection between inside and outside we take it seriously and push the concept until it is almost impossible to distinguish the line between internal space and external space,” the team explains quite matter-of-factly.
The delivery – a literal translation of the owners’ request for something that is “ridiculously inside-out” – was on point. For Cut Paw Paw, a renovation and extension to a double fronted weatherboard home in Seddon, Victoria, the team took a galvanised steel shed construction and peeled back the layers of sheeting until the frame was exposed.
They then located the living, kitchen and dining areas on one end of this annex, and a music studio on the other. In between, within the unclad structure, a deck lives with the garden, some paving, and a bathtub.
The result is fascinating. Although sliding walls, bifold doors and decks separate some of the spaces, overlaps were welcomed. Parts of the garden creep into the living spaces, and parts of the floor spill into the garden.
Reflecting the mystery and grandeur surrounding buildings that are crumbling and in decay, the bare structure speaks volumes of potential and imagination. In the words of the architect:
“When wandering the street and stumbling upon an anonymous house in construction we get all excited by the possibilities. We all imagine what the finished building could be like. The site holds so much promise when there is nothing more than a timber or steel frame. It is a jungle gym, a relic, and a skeleton full of play and imagination. Often it is when a building is at its most beautiful.
“All too soon the excitement, the imagination and the potential comes crashing down as the reality of the finished building becomes apparent. When the anonymous house is roofed, clad and finished it is often a disappointment as the banality of the McMansion emerges.”
The double fronted façade reveals nothing of the unfinished structure within
Named after the parish in which it presides, the raw form of Cut Paw Paw runs along the southern boundary so that it is soaked in sunlight. Openings and windows are all designed to optimise passive solar gains, which reduces the demands on mechanical heating and cooling. All windows are double glazed, and white roofs are used to reduce urban heat sink.
Water tanks and solar panels have their place too, and high performance insulation is everywhere, even in the walls of the original house.
At the same time, a pond on the face of the largest north facing is home to fishes and plants, but also works as a passive cooling mechanism through natural evaporative cooling.
Left in a state of deliberate and measured disrepair, Cut Paw Paw is curated by split but connected personas – it is both inside and outside, both a garden and a home, both a new building and an old ruin.
The house now faces north. Sun and shadow dance through the frame throughout the day, passively warming the house in winter, while keeping it cool in summer.
Photography by Peter Bennetts and Tess Kelly