It is raised from the ground thanks to a rise that bridges the first floor and blends into the surrounding nature, it seems isolated and does not let any details leak out. The new house designed by Studio Figr a Essendon, Victoria, in Australia, seen from the outside appears as a single armored piece.
The full-height shutters - designed and made to measure to guarantee privacy to the internal life - cover the entire facade of the housing block. Observing this strange building up close, however, you discover a secret garden, an internal terrace and a two-storey development that leaves you speechless. In this project there is everything and family-friendly: as in a game of joints, each area leaves room for the next.
The owners turned to Studio Figr with the need to move to the family home that belonged to their grandmother, and, at the same time, the desire to live in a comfortable and modern. Essential starting request: to gain a lot (a lot) more space, as functional as possible to the growth of a family.
Starting from these assumptions, the architects opted for the lifting of the entire housing block, a choice that also entailed the possibility of maintaining the benefit of an outdoor space on the ground floor. The silhouette is unusual and truly intriguing: between conventional and unconventional, it is the shape of the classic roof that glues with the rest of the neighborhood, maintaining the sober and 'common' profile that characterizes it.
Between the alternation of open and closed spaces, the 'secret' gem is upstairs: an open-air garden invisible from the outside. Here, everything is connected. Everything is functional to daily life.
How did the decision to raise the house come about?
Lifting the structure allowed us to create a ground floor that is flexible in use and that conveyed privacy to the upper floor. The structure rests laterally on a small green rise that acts as a bridge with the first floor.
We designed it so that it also fits well with the public sphere outside the house: the plants gradually decrease as you get closer to the road, acting as a contact element between the house and the outside life.
The suspended first floor allowed us to create a covered path on the ground floor that guided guests into the private areas of the house. We have also added a covered green area and a parking space - always covered from the first floor.
At first glance, it is the shutters that conquer the eye.
The shutters have been made to measure and are automatic, designed to give our customers the flexibility to close or open the house as needed. They close off the structure bringing maximum privacy and to protect the master bedroom from the strong western sun if needed. Not being a fixed element, it is possible to modulate the light and privacy at your own pace.
What was the essential requirement?
We started with the essential request of our customers to create a house that best connects the green spaces with the internal ones. But also to keep the presence of a garden / courtyard as much as possible.
The biggest difficulty of the project?
The most challenging and exciting aspect of the project was to satisfy the large brief in a relatively small building space. We were asked to upset the soul of the house but keeping it in line with the 'pleasant' spirit of the neighborhood.
How did you respond to the need to save space?
Creating opportunities in an otherwise underused ground floor. We worked with volumes to create the perception of space even where there is little. The open lower part creates profound visual connections throughout the house.
What is left of the grandmother's house?
This is a house created from scratch: we demolished the pre-existing house. However, we worked by maintaining the textures of the surrounding properties - such as the exposed brick wall - establishing a dialogue between the old and the new.
Tell us about the secret space/garden.
The central garden allows an important incursion of light and air in the center of the structure. It becomes a privileged corridor of light from the outside to the inside of the house, interconnecting life inside and outside.
Was it therefore essential that indoors and outdoors dialogue?
The link between inside and outside was a fundamental aspect of the brief. The whole design promotes visual and physical connections with green spaces. Seen from home, the garden is relaxing, we have applied the design principles of biophilia.
What do the Figr projects have in common?
In most of our projects we look for opportunities to eliminate redundancies and activate unused or underused spaces. We love to create flexible spaces, able to evolve and be modifiable over time.