COURTYARD HOUSE
Tom Ferguson

COURTYARD HOUSE

AILEEN SAGE ARCHITECTS as Architects

A new house designed by architect Amelia Holliday for her family (husband David Lakes, daughter Aoife and dogs Ciara and Audrey). Located in the Paddington Conservation area it reinterprets the classic terrace house typology that characterizes much of the surrounding area. As a core principal the house is designed as a robust form that responds to the changing needs of the family over time. Consideration has been given to how rooms may be occupied differently throughout the year and over the years - as the family expands, children grow and needs change. Architecture that responds to this theme of future flexibility is a key concern of the office (see Aileen Sage Architects unbuilt projects “27 smith st”, “Big Bungalow House”.)


Context The existing house on the site was a decrepit 1880s two-story house that had been significantly altered over time leaving little of the original intact. Extensive termite, mould and moisture damage had further reduced the structural integrity of the original house meaning the existing form could not be salvaged.


The new house however takes the envelope and general site arrangement of the original as a starting point. It re-traces the existing form, maximizing access to natural light and ventilation to all rooms and in doing so reinterpreting it for today. The house maintains traditional elements of the terrace vernacular but reinterprets them through a contemporary lens. Public and private zones are subtly articulated, mediating your relationship to the street through layered vantage points as you move through the house. The overhanging balcony, sandstone foundation and visual contrast between the front and rear of the house echo the patterns of the surrounding terraces.


Memory The material palette similarly references the original and surrounding built language. Sandstone, bagged recycled brick and rough rendered masonry are contrasted with off form concrete and an assemblage of new and recycled patterned and clear glass. Internally, painted vertical timber boards line the front section of the house and are echoed in deep concrete reveals to the central living roomformed from salvaged fence palings from the site.


In the rear of the house painted timber floor and ceiling joists are left exposed creating a sense of informality in contrast to the smooth planes of the front. Joinery units are simply painted or stained and for the most part assembled from scrap left over or recycled material on site.


Composition Colour and texture are used as a playful device throughout the home. Layered unexpected colour pairings articulate and expand the rooms beyond the confines of their walls. Brass framed joinery items are designed as pieces of furniture - hovering on fine legs or suspended from the ceiling they allow the dimension of the room to continue over and around.


Garden A walled garden and series of smaller courtyard spaces were carved from the envelope creating a central courtyard plan. With concept plans designed by Sue Barnsley Design the garden is an ever-evolving element building on layers of colour and texture. Each of the living areas opens up to this inner city “secret garden” with different scaled openings allowing for flexibility in seasonal occupation. Aroofplanted with succulentsconnects the front and rear of the house and separates the two wings. Two large frangipanis were transplanted from the original front garden and a new leopard tree planted in the central courtyard for summer shade.


Green Passive energy design has been incorporated into all aspects of the home. The central courtyard plan allows for natural light and ventilation to permeate all living areas while in bedrooms large areas of high-level glazing maximize natural light whilst preserving privacy. Ample thermal mass from the exposed concrete ceiling and planted roof are coupled with highly insulated brick veneer construction to enable a stable internal air temperature year round. Whilst the home utilizes features such as a solar powered heat pump for domestic hot water and winter heating, it is essentially a low-tech, minimally serviced house.


Materials selected are mainly recycled, raw or low in embodied energy and predominantly sourced from local suppliers. All joinery including hardwood timber windows and doors were fabricated on site.


A central principal of the project is the ability of the design to respond to future change. Spaces are designed for flexibility of occupation for different familial pairings, multi generational occupation and flexibility between living, working and bedroom spaces.


Collaboration The house is our sixth project collaboration with Lochbuild. Many of the construction details were developed and prototyped on site in discussions between architect, carpenters, joiners and fabricators.


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Rochusplatz 1, Vienna, Austria - Build completed in 2017
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