Australian studio Andrew Maynard Architects – known for their bespoke residential designs – have exploded the traditional house plan format. Tower House is a renovation and extension to a weatherboard home in Alphington, Victoria, Australia. “The client and their 8-year-old twin sons asked for a home for community, art and nature to come together”, explains the architects. “We designed them a village.”
The young studio have once again delivered a left-field proposal which oozes with quirky fun features. But in Maynard’s books, quirky does not mean self-indulgent. Far from it. In fact, the architects continue to deliver personality through their architecture by focusing on two fundamentally central elements of any design process: client and context. By listening to the client’s needs and responding to the surroundings, Andrew Maynard Architects are able to reinterpret design in new funky ways.
Let’s start with the outside. Set in a textured garden, the layout consists of six interconnected structures (mini homes if you like) connected to the existing house. “With the exception of a few new homes the context was small, humble weatherboard and brick abodes. A chunk of large contemporary architecture would be an imposition in this context”, explains the architects. “Though the brief was not small, our proposition was to create a series of small structures of a scale and texture that did not dominate this context.” This home-as-a-village notion is a clear and intentional anti-monolithic architectural response intended Maynard. This creates a new dynamic language which apart from being quite pleasing to look at, also plays with your mind. “Tower House is a village externally and a home internally”, say the architects, “[it] defies logic as the exterior appears to be a series of small structures while internally the spaces and functions are large and connected.”
The profile of the individual blocks remind us of a stylised house shape, each of different footprints and variations in height. The cladding – a blend of industrial corrugated steel with warm timber tiles – fits together surprisingly well, and gives an added sense of rhythm and texture to the already dynamic plan. There is an underlying sense of style – a quirky elegance – at play here.
Inside, things get fun. Grown-ups and children have their own space to indulge in, each purposely designed to match the mood. Mom has a contemplative library, lined in timber and slightly sunk under the ground level to reinforce its relaxed nature. Dad, on the other hand, has a tiny sneaky hideaway in the roof space in the centre of the house. The twins have it great! They have a studio – designed to inspire them as they grow – which comes equipped with a net (that’s right) from which they can climb around on and relax in.
Like all the other projects by this Melbourne-based firm, this house too is an example of successful eco passive design. The house is laid out to allow maximum sunlight to seep in. Openings and windows (all double-glazed) have been specifically designed to optimise passive solar gain, which translates to less mechanical heating and cooling systems being needed. It is also designed as a highly flexible and adaptable space which can be rearranged as the family grows older and needs change.
The white roofs – already so characteristic as an aesthetic feature – also serve a practical eco passive role. The color was chosen to drastically reduce urban heat sink and minimise internal heat transfer. The search for natural cooling systems extends to the way the house is designed to actively manage shade and promote passive ventilation; two key elements which eliminate the need for air conditioning units. The original house also received an eco-friendly makeover by being fitted with the same high-performance insulation used everywhere else in the new additions.
But Tower House has one last trick up its sleeve; a conscious understanding of what we call the 5th elevation. The 5th elevation is clever architectural jargon which refers to the roof of a building. In our high-tech age, the roof of buildings have been (perhaps reluctantly) projected into the global limelight. Andrew Maynard Architects explain; “The street front is no longer the public face of our buildings. Google Earth has made the roof the public face of our buildings, accessible to anyone at any time. We can now see all the mess that’s hidden in the rooftop”. What was once hidden from sight is today fully displayed to the world. With this in mind, Tower House was purposely designed to look beautiful from space, making this building a true child of its high-tech generation.
Andrew Maynard Architects raise the flag high for human scale quirky design in today’s architecture context. The studio is known for delivering personality over and over again through their creative designs of wonderfully detailed bespoke houses. Tower House joins a long list of Maynard over-achieving siblings. The design recently received a commendation at the 2015 World Architecture Fair (WAF 2015) in Singapore earlier this month. Just another notch on the bedpost for Andrew Maynard Architects, who continue to entertain the architecture scene with their quirky designs. In fact, this house alone is the proud recipient of not one, not two, but five architecture and interior design awards, which roster up as three wins, two commendations and one high commendation (as mentioned before).
Here’s something cool. You too can be the proud owners of this award-winning house. Today. Here. Now. Download your very own DIY Tower House paper model courtesy of Andrew Maynard Architects, click here.
Fun-Fact: This house comes with an enigma, what Andrew Maynard Architects call the “mysterious case of No.5”. They explain… “There is no No.5 in this street, which is odd. No.3 and No.7 sit side by side and no one can explain why No.5 was omitted. Tower House finds a small gap between 3 and 7 to build a new structure. It’s not No.5. The new tower fills the numerical gap. But the mystery remains.” Can you solve the mystery?
[Photo credits: Peter Bennetts / Tess Kelly]
[Drawings credits: Andrew Maynard Architects]