Cuckoo House is a new home completed in July 2019. Cuckoo is located in Melbourne's inner-city suburb of Footscray on a 230sqm block. The original site housed a weatherboard Edwardian with a front verandah, common to the street, so the proposed design had to respect the character without imitating too closely.
What were the key challenges?
site access - due to the raked gable ceiling in the rear section of the property, it was physically impossible to construct an extension to the rear of an existing dwelling (without causing severe damage to the dwelling).
the neighbouring property to the north of the dwelling is a 2 storey unit complex, casting significant northern shadows on the dwelling. we decided to take advantage of the steep height of the roof in the rear section and added a series of roof windows at calculated angles to best take advantage of the sunlight cast on the dwelling (without making it too hot). the strategically designed rear facing windows allow the owners, Nathan and Iman, to gaze outside with unobstructed views of the sky.
What was the brief?
design of a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom house plus study.
retain existing front section of the dwelling if possible.
retain as much rear garden as possible.
design a space that allowed the home to feel big and bright, despite the small lot size. The original Edwardian dwelling, while charming, was dark.
windows looked out to neighbouring walls, so the dwelling lacked any external outlook or direct sunlight.
the owners also desired a study, adding amenity and capital value to the dwelling.
The budget was a huge constraint, and although normally, this budget would have been sufficient for the project's scope, the site constraints caused significant additional costs to the dwelling. Thankfully we had a great builder, Jose Pratt from Grand Maison took care of the project as if it were his own home and made suitable recommendations without greatly compromising the design intent throughout in order to achieve a construction quote that met the client budget.
Who are the clients and what's interesting about them?
The house is owned by Nathan and Iman. they're getting married in 2020.
Nathan is a local Real estate agent, while Iman works for one of the big 4.
While their pairing may equate to an ideal partnership, this made for a challenging team when it came to 'design'. obviously, with both of their professional backgrounds, their decisions were informed by their knowledge of what led to the greatest investment in construction. Fortunately, they placed stock in the value an architect can give to a home. because Nathan and Iman trusted us implicitly, we were able to really explore some unique ideas that gave this home a point of difference and, without a doubt, a really sexy vibe. This couple were referrals to us from a previous client (the owner of our Perched House). i was very flattered when they told me once that the reason they trusted my choices was because the referrer had told them, "do everything Wesley tells you to do".
How is the project unique?
The whole dwelling is a grand total of 108sqm. We wanted to bring light into the dwelling and to introduce the feeling of spaciousness. thankfully, we were able to convince the client to allow us to 'spend a little extra' on a soaring raked ceiling in the living space. we justified this by placing a small mezzanine above the laundry in this spot. also, we had to be very strategic in our spatial layout by minimising traffic paths, as well as any unnecessary rooms.
we originally approached the brief with the intent to retain the existing front Edwardian section, and proposing a rear extension. the front section still needed major renovations and reconfiguration. by the time we reached tender, builders informed us it would be simpler for them to demolish and rebuild the whole dwelling... even if they were to rebuild the Edwardian dwelling exactly as it is. both Council and we were not happy with this solution. Rara approached Council to propose a modern interpretation of an Edwardian that respected neighbourhood character without looking like a mock-Edwardian. The Council planner was initially apprehensive that we would be able to execute this well, but agreed to give me a chance to present an idea. Likewise, the client was disappointed to lose the charm that came packaged with their delightful Edwardian house. the design also had to hit them in the right spot. after circulating the concept, we received raving reviews from both the client and Council.
Jose, our builder from Grand Maison said, "The whole project itself was unique and we all loved working on it and seeing it evolve. The house flowed beautifully and I especially loved it when we installed the hallway artistic “arch”. It was the piece of the “puzzle” (for want of a better word) that tied the traditional aspects of the front of the house, to the modern design at the rear. To me, that was special".
Key products used:
Altache Cedar by cedarsales
Cemintel Barestone (the smooth cladding on the front facade)
CSP Equitone lines (the grooved cladding on the front facade)
Adbri Masonry architectural brick, ivory (feature stone wall in living dining)
dining room pendant light by David Trubridge