Winning the 2017 Australian Institute of Architects’ highest residential award, the Harold Desbrowe-Annear Award, the Rose House by Baracco + Wright Architects combines two residences in a prominent and singular brick form. Exploring three activated frontages and filling the prominent suburban-cum-public site, the building balances its residential program with a responsive civic presence. The continuous brick form breaks down from west to east to create flexible street-protected retreats resemblant of other humble parkland structures. It reinterprets the splendour of the historical brick buildings of its context with a playful interpretation of rounded Art Deco geometry.
Designed for the Rose family, this project combines two residences in its singular volume: a two bedroom terrace-like house for the adult children, and a three bedroom plus study house for the parents. The smaller house to the north is designed using a contextual terrace typology maximising its east and west vistas. At just over 5 meters wide and 30 metres long, it extends the pattern of the street through its entry, setback and typology. The larger house faces the southern corner with a prominent form, akin to a castle turret or hull of a ship, with an entry at its curved mouth. It fills the wedge-like site with an inner urban sensibility and no real allusions to being a metaphorical piece of architecture.
With the elevations and residences responding to different cues from the street, reserve and site, the combined houses are reconciled as a singular piece of architecture. The west façade is mostly solid, with sharp punctuated windows, presenting a hard, confident mass to the street. This condition breaks down as the form wraps around to the more intimate relationship with Edinburgh gardens and the bike and pedestrian path to the east. The façade becomes much softer as the materiality of the exterior adapts in a play of negative space; using transparent mesh, pergola frames and larger windows, picking up the reflection of trees and significant planting.
The triangular form, squeezed to the boundary, was also consequential of an aim to create interior spaces that achieve both a level of privacy on the public corner whilst maintaining a strong connection to the site. The smaller house to the north is open on the first floor – connecting the user to the east and west views at once. The larger house, utilising the hit and miss brickwork of its curved point, creates a screened study at ground level. The undercroft and setback to the east allows flexible outdoor zones that are sheltered and mediate the ground floor living space with the openness of the reserve and public bike path. The use of mesh curtains to enclose this space are operable along its entire length and offers a shared spatial quality with the adjoining public reserve, rather than a hard wall or garage door. The space is designed to be used recreationally but can also accommodate car parking. It demonstrates a reversal of the street pattern that engages the perimeter in a playful manner and treats the nature strip, reserve and gardens as an extension of the home.
The first floor’s continuous band of windows creates a seamless relationship with the park across the road and the reserve to the east. This relationship is reflected in the planning technique of the interior as well; where bathrooms, internal cores and staircases are kept central to allow the residents to be in touch with the perimeter as they move around. By pushing the living spaces to the streets edge, this planning technique of spatial displacement rather than division allows the building to flow freely around the perimeter so the residents can enjoy every part of its prominent address. An attempt to have no ‘back’ or rear as seen in this build is a key planning strategy of Baracco + Wright Architects.
At the building’s highest point, a roof deck sits discreetly within the roofline, taking advantage of an adjacent tree and adding to the varied types of outdoor spaces on offer through the form. The garden to the west and south continues the accumulation of native greenery of the side street with a layer of purple flowering plants that nod to the Jacaranda Trees of Edinburgh Gardens; a collaboration with the landscape architect Amanda Oliver.
Baracco + Wrights spatial exploration and ingenuity are showcased in Rose Houses relationship to the sites context, and the grandeur of the prominent address; where the spatial planning and responsive and clever materiality successfully temper the public/private duality of the site in a valuable demonstration of design flexibility for inner-urban density.
|ARCHITECT||Baracco + Wright Architects