Architecture: Elwood House

Jun 1, 2012
  • Article by Jost Architects
  • Photography by Tara Pearce
  • Designer
  • Architect Jost Architects

The Elwood House is a new residential dwelling with a separate garage and studio to the rear. The client’s brief was for a modern family home that was interesting and exciting, but not to the detriment of the comfort to the occupants and within a sensible budget – something clean, distinctive and enjoyable to use.

Conceptually, the house is separated into two clearly defined elements to the upper and lower levels. The lower is a solid masonry form, giving the impression that a block has been carved and hollowed – revealing areas of the interior from different external views which in turn create views of the surrounding area from the inside. The timber-clad upper level sits over the top as a lighter, more private element. This interacts with its solid base, cantilevered over some areas to offer shelter and set back in others to allow for more open contact to the surroundings. A flat roof was required to reduce the height of the structure within the street but the arrangement of the cladding, with angled junctions between the timber and cement sheet cladding, negated the boxy form that is so often associated with modern buildings. These junctions also references the pitched roof angles of the neighbouring properties.

Internally, a combination of simple, natural and low maintenance finishes creates an inviting and clean aesthetic. The living areas, including an internal courtyard between the formal living and dining area on the ground level, are separated by large double glazed sliding doors. When open these doors allow the spaces to be visually combined, right through from the front to the rear of the main house. When closed, the reflection generated by the glass layers of the doors make each space more intimate and private.

The practice’s design principles have delivered an energy efficient home through sensible planning and layout, with a house that performs according to its local environment – permitting plenty of natural light and ventilation without relying solely on the use of mechanical heating or cooling. Glazing is primarily orientated to the north and east and sunlight is controlled by built forms such as eaves, overhangs or the position of main elements of the building. Areas facing west and south use more bulk, and therefore increase the thermal mass. Building techniques such as standard domestic wall construction are combined with high performance insulation and air gaps to improve thermal performance, double glazing is used throughout  and building products such as engineered flooring and sustainable timber cladding were particular environmental decisions.

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