With a block of land subdivided into four lots, the client sought a grouped housing development that could be divided to yield more than four dwellings, should the local density code change in the future. The brief also called for sustainable building practices, materials and finishes, minimal ongoing maintenance costs and a long life cycle. The dwellings were designed to be both flexible and adaptable to accommodate the changing demographics of the future population, family structures, and the ability to support intergenerational living arrangements.
Designed to zero setbacks on southern boundaries to maximise solar access, the building massing is arranged to avoid overshadowing and provide acoustic separation between living and sleeping areas. Mass walls on the southern boundaries, made of rammed recycled building rubble, provide thermal storage, acoustic and fire separation. They also retain attractive courtyard walls and add a strong anchoring element to the houses.
All living areas broadly address northern courtyards to maximise winter solar penetration and are flanked by garages on the western edge, which help to shield afternoon heat gain. South-facing skylights provide volume, indirect light and effective, controllable ventilation to living areas via the prevailing south-westerly. Living areas and courtyards are meanwhile protected from unpleasantly strong winds and shaded by the existing mature tree which were retained.
This project faced what the architects regarded to be the biggest challenge of many construction projects: balancing the embodied energy of materials with their operability, recyclability and life cycle.
Typically, some of the materials chosen for the project (Zincalume and fibre cement sheet cladding, aluminium framed windows and doors, concrete slabs) are high in manufacturing embodied energy. However the architects felt any shortfall was outweighed by other benefits: low maintenance, as-found finishes, recyclability and efficient coverage.
In the end, where these materials were used, they were carefully designed and detailed to be as efficient as possible. For example, the concrete slabs were tinted with a black oxide and thickened on the northern edge to enhance their earth-connected thermal mass, and sealed with a water-based sealer.
The buildings were also designed according to cladding sheet layouts so that cutting and waste was minimised. Measures were taken to offset these high-energy materials with low-energy ones; the structure consists of the rammed recycled mass walls and lightweight plantation pine framing.
A key innovation was flexibility and long term adaptability of the dwellings. The dwellings have been designed to facilitate multiple modes of occupation over time with only minor modifications required for any reconfigurations to create a home office, granny flat or additional bedrooms.
One of the ways of achieving this was by separating vehicle and pedestrian access. This had a threefold effect; pedestrian safety, a more communal entry sequence and a way of entering each house at both ends to facilitate future internal subdivisions. In all standard configurations, garages were prepared with finished slabs, linings and pre-wiring for easy conversion to home offices or commercial shopfronts, encouraging blended live/work arrangements. A central nib wall was serviced with gas, water, power and plumbing, so that each house may be easily and affordably divided in the future to accommodate an additional bedroom or completely separate self contained dwelling with its own entry.
RAIA National Architecture Awards, Multiple Residential, Commendation 2012
RAIA (WA) Walter Greenham Award for Sustainable Architecture 2012
RAIA (WA) Harold Krantz Award for Multiple Residential 2012
Building Products News (BPN) Sustainability Awards, Multi Density Residential Winner 2012
BLUESCOPE STEEL, ZINCALUME CUSTOM ORB
BLUESCOPE STEEL, ZINCALUME CUSTOM ORB
BGC, DURACOM FIBRE CEMENT SHEETING
ARCHITECTURAL WINDOW SYSTEMS
WA TIMBER SALES, PINE FRAMING TRUSSES
PERTH STABILISED EARTH RAMMED RECYCLED WALLS
TIMBER FLOORS & DECKS
NATURE RECYCLED JARRAH FLOORS
INTERNAL DOOR FRAMING
ALSUPPLY, STANDARD PARTITION SUITE FRAME
ORIGINAL CERAMICS, ASH AND WHITE GLOSS TILES
MORGAN, SUPERIOR FLEXIGROUT ULTRAFINE
PHILIP GEROVICH CABINETS
ROBE HINGE SETS
ANGLE-SHOE FLAT-STRAP FS35 PIVOT HINGE SETS
ARTEDOMUS, HONED BEDONIA STONE
TUFFSTUFF AUSTRALIA, TM EXTRA HEAVY DUTY WALL WRAP
CAROMA, CARE CUBE EXTENSION WALL BASINS CARE 800 WALL FACED TOILET SUITE
WET AREA HARDWARE
ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN HARDWARE, TOWEL RAILS AND TOILET ROLL HOLDERS
BOSCH HOME APPLIANCES, RANGEHOODS, OVENS, COOKTOPS, DISHWASHERS
AGAR, FIRST BASE FLOOR SEALER
DULUX, WASH & WEAR LEXICON
LOCKWOOD AUSTRALIA, 231 BACK TO BACK
WHITCO, NARROW STYLE LOCKS
ELFA, PLATINUM RANGE
IKEA, DOMSJO WHITE CERAMIC BUILT IN SINK WITH STRAINER
KALDEWEI, VAIO SET