21/07/2020 - 07:00

Design spaces to keep the flow

21/07/2020 - 07:00

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Breaking down the barriers between outdoor and indoor spaces underpinned Debra Brown Architect’s HOUSE 12 project, a finalist in the 2020 WA Architecture Awards.

Design spaces to keep the flow
Debra Brown Architect’s HOUSE 12 residential project features rammed earth and timber throughout. Photos: Gabriel Oliveira

Playing with the idea of ‘inviting the outside in’ took on many forms in Debra Brown’s design for a 490-square-metre house, located on the border of Claremont and Cottesloe.

These focused on leveraging materials such as rammed earth and timber, maximising views over trees and designing a floor plan to wrap around greenery.

“From front to back, the indoor and outdoor living areas connect seamlessly, blurring the definition between internal and external,” Ms Brown told Business News.

“We wanted to maintain a strong visual connection to the street with its mature tree scape.

“The study and ensuite both have floor-to-ceiling sliding glass panel doors to the north with a frameless glass balustrade, so that when the doors are open it feels like the rooms themselves are a balcony.”

Ms Brown said the design had enabled her to present the outdoor space as a continuation of the indoor living spaces, with a courtyard in the centre of the house encircled by glass panels.

“The clients were keen for their new home to exemplify a new decade of residential architecture,” she said.

“Their brief was for a house that would be textural, elegant and contemporary, reflect their own interest in architecture and the arts and be a comfortable, functional and energy-efficient home for their family with two teenage girls.”

Ms Brown said the orientation, design, double glazing, materials selection and cross ventilation all contributed to the building achieving an 8.2-star energy rating, as assessed by the National House Energy Rating Scheme.

Passive design skills keep the house naturally warm in winter, with the rear of the block facing north and able to capture the sun from all aspects of the house. In summer, the electronic louvres help to keep the house cool.

“One of the original client requests was to have an entry with some ‘wow’ factor without being grandiose,” Ms Brown said.

“This was achieved with a beautiful double-height, rammed-earth blade wall, a cantilevered floating-timber stair and a ‘bridge’ connecting to the upper-level study.

“I know the clients particularly love the built-in window seat in the dining area. It provides a sitting nook for the casual, day-to-day activities of a busy family.”

Ms Brown had previously worked with the owners on a separate home 15 years ago, and noted the family requirements had since changed to cater to teenagers.

“When they moved into their previous home, their first daughter was a newborn and the family bedrooms were all in the same upstairs zone,” she said.

Organising the house into ‘distinct zones’ had been an integral part of the planning strategy, Ms Brown said, with family areas connecting to outdoor areas and the parents’ zone upstairs.

“A major success of the planning is that the house can be opened up so that the living areas extend from the front of the house right through to the back wall,” she said.

HOUSE 12 was shortlisted as a finalist in this year’s 2020 WA Architecture Awards.

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