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Paperback house

Paperback house

Ben Callery Architects
Northcote, Melbourne, Australia | View Map
Project Year
Private Houses
Derek Swalwell

Paperback house

Ben Callery Architects as Architects

Paperback was designed for working from home while integrated with the rest of the family - who knew how important this would become in 2020!


The house enables two busy publishers (who did frequently work from home even prior to covid-19 lock-downs) and their young family to live, work, relax and play connected with each other and their environment. In so doing we explore how the contemporary Australian family can, not just juggle, but enjoy the overlapping of professional and family life as is increasingly demanded.


Our clients wanted a space where they could comfortably work from home during and after business hours and where kids would be encouraged to do homework amongst the family – but not on the kitchen table! A space where they could relax together and enjoy their love of reading.


Environmentally conscious, they wanted to engage with the elements for natural comfort. They were open to our assertion that environmentally less is more: smaller spaces consume less materials in construction and less energy in manufacture and occupation.


At the centre of the home the architectural protagonist is a double sided bookshelf celebrating their literary passion. Semi-transparent, this becomes a screen with adjustable opacity, providing sufficient enclosure, with visual glimpses and acoustic connection to the living rooms adjacent and rumpus room above. This creates the requisite separation while maintaining contact with the rest of the family.


The house is naturally comfortable using passive solar gain and natural ventilation and thermal mass with high levels of insulation.


The ground floor is open and transparent flowing outside, connecting the family with the elements and space to play. The openness of fully retractable floor to ceiling glass doors creates a sense of space greater than the modest footprint, important on this relatively small block.


The floating first floor by contrast is opaque and solid, carved from charred black hardwood. It responds to a different context requiring privacy and shade using enclosure through operable external blinds.


The upper floor form cantilevers to provide summer shade to rooms below while inviting the low winter sun deep into the livingg rooms.  In a neighbourly gesture it is offset significantly from the southern boundary to minimise overshadowing on the small private open spaces of the villa units adjacent.


Inside, translucent surfaces like the fluted glass and sheer curtains attenuate glare while maintaining the benefits of passive solar gain. Reflective surfaces like the polished concrete floor accentuate the soft light and, combined with natural materials, create a clam relaxing ambience perfect for reading whether for work or relaxation.


Material Used :
1. External Timber cladding – charred timber from Eco Timber Group
2. Timber pergola slats from Radial Timber Sales

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Product Spec Sheet

External Timber cladding – charred timber Eco Timber
Timber pergola slats Radial Timber Sales
Product Spec Sheet
External Timber cladding – charred timber
Timber pergola slats
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