When they first embarked on their Brighton House project, Ben Stibbard and Kate Fitzpatrick, Principals of Melbourne based architecture practice Auhaus, say they became “preoccupied with creating a house that felt open on a constrained pocket site”. The 500 square meter corner plot in this affluent coastal suburb can only be described as an ‘odd-shape’ and the challenge set by the owner / developer was to create a private space.
“We wanted to create a sense of entry and keep the light in the site but also didn’t want a fishbowl, the sense of privacy was also important,” says Fitzpatrick. “We came up with a concept, which enabled the structure to hug the boundary but feel surrounded by green and have some protected spaces.”
The solution allows views from the front to the back of the house creating a generous feel and flow that gives the illusion of a far bigger space. The widened entry creates an impact that is enhanced by the unique exterior finish. The owner requested a strong façade to the house and Auhaus were keen to avoid the ‘typical Brighton House’ of neutral render and glass.
“We considered how to draw attention to the form of the building and ensure it presented strongly from the street to further enhance the entry experience,” says Stibbard. “We have used black exterior finishes in projects before and knew that it would provide impact and reduce the structure to a single form.”
The team liked the aesthetic of a stained timber exterior to contrast with, and highlight, the planned verdant green landscaping for the property. Timber cladding of course can be challenging to maintain, not least in Australian coastal environments such as this. Thermally treated timbers were considered given their resistance to the elements and minimal maintenance requirements.