House in Hamilton

Tato Architects as Architects

Tato Architects / Yo Shimada has designed a small, honest project in Brisbane, Queensland, in collaboration with phorm architecture + design.


The project seeks to initiate a fresh outlook to reclaim the comfort inherent in interfaces between semi-outdoor spaces and the environment, and its power to connect people to their surrounding climate, cities and communities.


It is hoped this particular piece of architecture for a very specific individual might re-open discourse on the capacity and relevance of 'Queenslander' as a contemporary architectural type and model.


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Intellect for Living in Semi-exterior Spaces that are Equivalent to interior

This residence is located in Brisbane, the capital city of Queensland, Australia. This region is home to the Queenslander — a traditional style of wooden stilted house complete with veranda. The characteristic veranda is an environmental interface for keeping sunlight off the buildings outer walls, and also serves to link residents to their city and community through acting as an entrance porch, and sometimes even a dining room or reception area for greeting guests. In Japan these roles used to be carried out by engawa loggias and earthen floors, but such spaces are now in the process of disappearing. People greatly value the type of lifestyle, which can take place in semi-outdoor spaces. I saw an example of this in a housing catalogue issued in 1939, in which indoor and semi-outdoor areas were displayed in different colors and both of their floor spaces noted down for readers.


Perhaps due to its short history since the nation’s founding, Australia attributes great importance to historical objects, and in some of its regions the Queenslander roofline is strictly protected. What is unique about the building extension process here is that the existing house is raised to a higher level, while the extension takes place underneath. In Japan there is a sense that one must extend buildings from the top layer, but the Queenslander method has numerous benefits, including the fact that it preserves the occupants’ pre-existing lifestyle, does not necessitate a remake of the waterproof layer, and does not cause any great change in the stress load of the existing structure. It is a rather surreal sight to witness a Queenslander floating high in the sky while its extension is being constructed underneath. Perhaps feeling a synchronicity with this figure of a Queenslander undergoing extensions, a client contacted me with a picture of my House in Rokko that he had found on the Internet. He was seeking a minimalistic lifestyle, and had high expectations that we could help him achieve this with our Japanese scale and sensibilities.


Inspired by the plentiful intelligence of the Queenslander, I redefined this intellect as one necessary for a lifestyle, which is conducted equally between indoors and in semi-outdoor spaces, and set about deliberately misinterpreting its contents and style. I made sure that each indoor space had an adjoining outdoor area with an overhead roof, and installed a dining room and kitchen in both the interior and outside. To accomplish this, I combined a house-shaped volume, or more accurately, volume with a slender hipped roof inspired by the Queenslander, at 45. This created a geometric shape in the intersecting areas of the ceiling, which remind one of pointed cross vaults. The large apertures are hidden under the eaves, shielded from the strong Brisbane sun. Due to the reflections and permeations of light from the slanted glass, the inner and outer landscapes are intricately mingled together, and merge into one when the glass doors are left wide open.


Although the Queenslander was a type of colonial style, which had also been constructed in Japan, I believe it had not evolved or become established as a style here, excluding the adoption of small verandas in some cases. However, it has been wonderful to see continued experimentation in Brisbane, contributing to the accumulation of intellect surrounding the Queenslander as a developed form. This type of high-floored space under eaves used to be found widely in hot and humid Japan as well, but with the recent advent of architecture, which relies on air conditioning, it is passing out of popular memory. I wonder if it is possible for us to use a fresh outlook to reclaim the comfort inherent in interfaces between semi-outdoor spaces and the environment, and its power to connect people to their surrounding climate, cities and communities.

House in Hamilton

Phorm architecture + design as Architects

Collaboration tends to challenge ideas, structures and ultimately opens new dialogue. Phorm architecture + design and Yo Shimada / Tato architects have worked in concert to manifest a small, honest but critical project for our astute, ma seeking Client. Brisbane is a young city, barely 150 years old. It is a suburban place, dominated by its topography and reliant on our distinct timber vernacular houses to frame its identity – cultural touchstones.

 

It is our contention that in terms of type, tectonic and relationship to terrain, ‘House in Hamilton’ belongs decidedly to the architectural genus ‘Queenslander’. Whilst the exterior expounds a classic ‘tripartite’ layer cake construction; stumps, primary rooms (body) and pitched roof. The interiors demonstrate the sublime and complex geometric precision of the formal plan. These volumes are counterpointed with the celebration of discreet everyday living objects in a suspended composition.

 

It is through the finer scaled objects and their engagement with the spatial framework and occupants which we hope brings a particular humanity to the space and home. Veranda’s' enables a rarefied engagement with the landscape, climate and community that is both physical and psychological. House in Hamilton presents a third of its plan mass as veranda, this re-proportioning of the plan reflects on its potency. It is a homage to a significant space still present in Australia and one disappearing or untenable in urban Japan. The experience of the house and design process appear interconnected by ideas such as Translation, Intersection, Reflection and Tolerance.

 

Translation not only of language but also cultural nuance, architectural ideas or the finding of material equivalences. Intersection beyond the figurative splicing of the plan to an architectural moment in time and place. Reflections of positive and negative space within the elevations, mirror/plane relationships between interior and exterior also between process and object. Tolerance as a cultural expectation measured to 0.5mm and an idea carried to its unconditional resolution.

 

It is hoped this particular piece of architecture for a very specific individual that might re-open a general discourse on the capacity and relevance of 'Queenslander' as a contemporary architectural type and mod­el.­­

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