Laurel Grove

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  • 2021

  • Architectural
    Commercial and Residential

Designed By:

  • Kirsten Johnstone Architecture

Commissioned By:

Confidential

Designed In:

Australia

Rammed earth, concrete and timber are celebrated design heroes at this new home in Blackburn, Melbourne. The site presented interesting design challenges due to its location within a Significant Landscape Overlay in a unique urban pocket of the city. Our design focuses on modern family living and the use of sustainable materials.


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Tatjana Plitt
Tatjana Plitt
Tatjana Plitt
Tatjana Plitt
Tatjana Plitt
Tatjana Plitt
Tatjana Plitt
Tatjana Plitt
  • CHALLENGE
  • SOLUTION
  • IMPACT
  • MORE
  • With an irregular L shaped site (wide at the front with a narrow backyard) and a Significant Landscape Overlay our proposed family home was constrained to a modest footprint. Our forward-thinking clients sought a sustainable and contextually sensitive home that would respect the unique bush-suburban location. The West facing site orientation drove the resolution of clever architectural forms and robust sustainable materials to protect prime living spaces. The relationship between public versus private spaces needed thoughtful consideration to integrate the surrounding natural landscape features into the home and provide versatile spaces for the family.

  • Surrounding native ironbark trees heavily informed the timber-driven aesthetic, with carefully placed framed views capturing sightlines to tree tops and managing privacy to the street. Tactile raw materials were employed liberally as a celebration of the surrounding landscape; rammed earth walls with deep set full height windows mitigate harsh Western sun and provide thermal mass for passive heating and cooling. The house celebrates natural materials with local timbers, lush wool carpets, and a painterly burnished concrete slab. Discreet joinery details like hidden doors, carved hand grips and intimate nooks further connect materiality and architectural function.

  • Laurel Grove stands as a testament to using energy-efficient design principles paired with clever architectural articulation for a modestly sized family home. Low maintenance and high thermal performance materials were selected for their timeless and enduring qualities, harmonising this rich material connection to its landscape, and to be enjoyed for many years to come. Upon completion of the project, the clients have become deeply connected to their home and the immediate bush locale, joining the local environmental group to ensure future developments in the area are similarly sensitively designed in this much-treasured bush-suburban streetscape.

  • Championing materials and their sensory offerings has greatly influenced the composition of the house and tectonic junctions. By juxtaposing different finishes, spaces are defined in interesting and experiential ways like a lower ceiling lined with timber battens in the dining area transitioning to an expansive open living and kitchen space. Confident use of materials are explored internally and externally: the front façade appears like a monolithic entity with recesses and openings including a "secret" entry door, whereas contrasting materials define volume and function to the rear of the home. The large, glazed openings reflect the local treed landscape like a deep bush billabong. With an intentionally modest footprint, this discreet language of openings and joinery details allow for a highly resolved design to appear minimal. Hidden and discrete storage along corridors and in niches ensure each square centimetre of this home is utilized. When so many new homes are overblown, Laurel Grove works hard to accommodate generous and uncompromised modern living in a 172 square metres foot print on a 586-square-metre site, less than thirty per cent coverage. Our clients have adored living in a home that timelessly suits its context.