After studying together and graduating in the mid 1990s this small house, our own, is the first building completed in our own right (rather than via an established practice for which we worked). The house is an attempt to draw on lessons gained through practice, travel and teaching. A gentlemanly and honest builder completed it on a modest budget, we completed the internal painting and built the library and garden.
The site was loaded with possibility for two principle reasons. Firstly, because it was so ordinary a piece of flat land that used to be someone elses backyard; secondly, because of its dimension 15 by 15 metres, a small intense dimension in Perths terms. Rather than simply reading this site as being small, we sought to pursue its development along similar lines to that of the ancient enclosed garden, where the garden walls contained an inner realm of intensity and order. Our love of John Soanes own house helped lead us in this direction. Louis Kahns belief in the room as the base-unit in architecture where each room might describe its own inner world also fuelled the design.
The houses order is that of an internal courtyard contained on two sides by thick bedroom wings. The courtyard exists as a centrally located plywood-clad living room, which acts to centre the house and all movement between the other discrete rooms. Upon leaving the main living room the occupant enters spaces we have termed light corridors which draw-in light both horizontally and vertically to the houses centre. A single step upwards takes you into each light corridor, which slices through the bedroom wings, giving each wing the appearance of thickened walls. From these light corridors, access to all the smaller, discrete rooms of the house is obtained.
A precise material and constructional order exists throughout. The house sits on a firm base, a black polished concrete floor slab, with grey off-form concrete planters and objects scattered through the gravel-topped skinny garden at the houses periphery. Plywood wraps the houses exterior and ducks inwards to enclose the central room. The library is of luscious black shellacked timber and is beautifully dark in contrast to all other rooms. The light corridors are white, crisp and simply detailed.
The principle constructional (as opposed to material) order occurs horizontally. The first layer is the black slab sitting within the grey gravel-garden. The second and third layers are stained plywood, described by a consistent horizontal line running through the project, which allowed constructional, weatherproofing and detailing concerns to be addressed. This line also structures part of the hidden artificial lighting scheme, and governs most interior finishes, door and window heights. Only the light corridors breech this horizontal line.
Ultimately we sought to construct a quiet, compelling inner world through idea, volume, material and light.