Acute House

Acute House

Architect
OOF! architecture
Location
Melbourne , Australia
Project Year
2017
Category
Private Houses
Nic Granleese
Product Spec Sheet

ElementBrandProduct Name
TilesAcademy Tiles
External CladdingAdvanced Metal Cladding
LightingAmbience Lighting
Metal WindowsAneeta Windows
TapwareAstra Walker
Joinery HandlesBellevue Architectural

Product Spec Sheet
Tiles
External Cladding
Lighting
Metal Windows
Tapware
Joinery Handles

Acute House

OOF! architecture as Architects

Acute House is the transformation of a 'renovator's nightmare' into a compact 21st century family home. The severe limitations of a tiny, very triangular site and the demanding heritage context have resulted in a pointy new wedge of house that is designed to exploit its problems.


The original, and extremely decrepit, Victorian weatherboard cottage had become impossible to inhabit but was well loved by the neighbourhood as well as its new owners.


We tried to retain its weathered character by re-using as much original fabric as possible from warped weatherboards and fence palings to random accumulations such as door knobs, vents and street numbers. Like fragile museum artefacts, these were carefully removed, labelled, stored and re-installed in their original location on a new mount that not only highlights their charms by contrast but allows the house to live again in a new way.


Questions and Answers


Tight

To take advantage of the opportunities of such an unusual site, the geometry required an adjustment to the layout and lifestyle expectations of a conventional family house. Multiple levels were required to accommodate the basic space needs of a family home and these were accommodated where site geometry best suited them. These spaces are distributed over split levels with the vertical space of the stairwell providing visual privacy and a sense of definition without wasting precious space on internal walls, corridors or doors. Continuous circulation is provided through each floor with no dead-ends, allowing spaces to be kept lean yet feeling spacious and un clogged – visually or physically.


Heritage-ous-ness + Context

The resulting new wedge of house is designed as an unusual but highly responsive approach to the character of the surrounding neighbourhood, and to the challenges and opportunities for responsive architecture presented by the site and its immediate context. It takes on the challenge of preserving an important but almost unsalvageable local landmark by working within the general typology of the surrounding neighbourhood, "rhyming" with its housing stock while remaining resolutely contemporary in its expression and articulation.


Virtual Gardening

While site area limitations and geometry allowed the council to permit building over 100% of the site this advantage came with the counterbalancing disadvantage of 0% outdoor space. As a result, the house interiors had to accommodate the needs of a family as well as providing them with the enjoyments of the great outdoors. This total lack of garden is offset by the artificial internal landscape of the stairwell with lawn green carpets, hanging plants, a central aquarium of aquatic plants and fish and a sunny outlook to every room. Full height sliding doors and screens open up the main living level as a virtual verandah and the pointy, but surprisingly generous, balcony provides the ambience of a yacht in the street.


What are the elements of the project contributing towards sustainability (in all its forms)?

As a general principle, smaller is better. While there were specific demands on this site, we always endeavour to achieve clear, lean plans that offer multiple overlapping uses of available space.


On a bigger picture, city wide level, the sympathetic densification of our inner urban fabric demands the use of as many of these weird “leftover” sites as possible. While their peculiarities will, of course, present special challenges, they are much more than merely serviceable as they offer unique opportunities for infill housing with enjoyments unachievable on conventional sites.


The comparatively narrow floor plate, arrangement of openings and open stairwell of the house allows natural daylighting throughout the day and evening in all seasons with pleasant sun penetration even in mid-winter. Sliding mesh shading screens and blinds are provided to the north façade openings for the times in the year when this needs to be controlled. Likewise, the narrow floor plate allows natural cross ventilation within each floor. The balcony doors and openable skylights at the top of the roof vent warm air from half basement to top floor via the open stairwell.


While it was not possible to incorporate water tanks or photovoltaic panels due to site and heritage constraints, high efficiency appliances such as a gas boosted evacuated tube solar hot water system and insulated slab hydronic floor heating are used where possible. All walls and roofs are highly insulated and all windows are timber framed double glazed and draft sealed. High water efficiency sanitary and tapware is used throughout.The internal finishes palette is minimal and modest using commonly available sustainable materials such as plantation grown Australian hardwoods, plywood and recycled timber cladding with minimal painting. External finishes require either minimal maintenance – powdercoated aluminium – or will be left to naturally weather and deteriorate – recycled timber cladding.


Exterior Metal Cladding:

Aluminium Standing Seam, Matt BlackInstaller: Advanced Metal CladdingCladding Manufacturer: Metal Cladding Systems

Exterior Timber Cladding:

Salvaged cladding from existing housePaint Finish: Resene exterior low sheen acrylic

Interior Walls + Ceiling Lining:

Birch PlywoodSeal: Mirotone clear satin gloss seal

Polished Concrete Floor:

Concrete Polishing: LumicConcrete Mix: Economix "Atlantic Ocean" off-white cement base

Steel Stairs:

Custom steel stairRedon Forge

Stair Balustrade:

Jacob Webnet MeshInstaller: Tensile

Carpet:

Tretford Goat Hair Carpet

Glazed Timber Doors + Windows:

Custom Hardwood Double GlazedPickering Joinery

Metal Windows:

Sashless Double Hung Double GlazedAneeta Windows

Window Reveals:

Custom welded steel plate revealsRedon Forge, Mitty & Price Builders

Solid Timber doors + Sliders:

CustomMitty & Price Builders

Timber Framed Perf Metal Screens:

CustomMitty & Price Builders

Custom Joinery:

Birch Ply, Hardwood FormplyTT Cabinets

Stainless Steel Bench + Integral Sink:

CustomMitty & Price Builders

Joinery Handles:

Recessed PullsBellevue Architectural

Door Furniture:

Door LeversBellevue Architectural

Tiles:

Penny Round MosaicsAcademy Tiles

Lighting:

ISM Objects, Dunlin Lighting, Euroluce, Ambience Lighting, Spicon Lighting, Hotbeam

Ceiling Fans:

Big Ass Fans

Sanitaryware:

Mary Noall, Reece, Hydrotherm

Tapware:

Astra Walker

Appliances:

Electric Oven: SmegCooktop | Gas 5 Burner Glass Top: SmegDishwasher | Integrated: Fisher & PaykelRangehood | Ceiling Mounted Tubular: Qasair / CondariFridge |Integrated: Fisher & PaykelKitchen Tap: ReeceChilled Water Tap: ZipBuilt-in ironing board: RobinhoodWood Burning Fireplace: Morso

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