MJA Studio: Winner of the 2022 - AIA WA Chapter Awards: The Marshall Clifton Award for Residential Architecture.
Our practice often undertakes infill projects of varying scales within established suburbs and with each project we seek to challenge the business-as-usual approach. This project provided the opportunity to address the battleaxe block subdivision which too often sees the replacement of an ex-backyard with structures that cover the majority of the site and leave little room for gardens, a poorly defined entry sequence neglecting the home a presence in the neighbourhood and a laneway lost to car parking and solid fencing.
Our brief was to fit more area for gardens and courtyards than the site itself, to flip the typical diagram and make the laneway our front door and the street our back, while opening up in party mode to the adjacent park. To make things more challenging we made a rule that it had to be completely compliant with the R-codes and had to be generous to its neighbours.
This home riffs on the work of Marshall Clifton and Julius Elischer and their search for an appropriate vernacular Architecture for Perth, in this case a courtyard house arranged around and within a series of seasonal garden rooms. Rough, white bagged brickwork reflects the heat of Perth’s brutal sun and provides the home’s enclosure, negating any need for boundary fencing. Glazed blue brickwork speaks to the surrounding blue tiled roofs and the exoticism of the courtyard typology. Recycled spotted Gum brings warmth to this simple palette of raw materials which exist in the same form both inside and out.
The courtyard typology forms the basis for the first principles approach to passive solar design and sustainability. Single storey to North and Northwest, two storey to South and South East, the massing optimises access to natural light and city views while providing an appropriate transition in scale from the existing single storey home adjacent.
Typically, blank insulated cavity brick walls shield Eastern and Western solar exposure while brickwork screens welcome the prevailing breeze into the courtyard. Openings to North are screened to protect direct solar access between late September and late March. All spaces are single depth allowing for optimal natural cross ventilation opportunities, a strategy aided by a thermal chimney that sits atop the stair volume and vents hot air at night. Green roofs, Double glazing, PV cells and use of recycled and ‘seconds’ materials round out a holistic approach to sustainability.
The home is 140m2 and has been designed to transition from a 1 bedroom home with generous studio to a 3x2 in the future if required. A shaded carbay is carved away from the ground floor laneway mass and left open to allow reprogramming in the future.
This project has exceeded the brief requirements, approved via delegated authority without the need of going to council it achieves 277m2 of gardens and open space on the 256m2 lot and is appreciated by its neighbors’ and the local community for the way it interacts with existing structures, the laneway and the Park.