Interesting, and different house in Melbourne (Mac Robertson warehouses) designed by Andrew Maynard Architects.
Nestled within the undulated roofline of one of Fitzroy’s famed MacRobertson warehouses, sits a roof terrace with a difference – complete with canopy and turf. This, the vertical and architectural pinnacle of the Butler House, fills the void that effects so many inner-city dwellings – a lack of outdoor space. Further to this, the warehouse apartment had a number of innate thermal and acoustic shortcomings – making it less-than-ideal for occupancy by a family with 2 rambunctious young boys. Balancing intimacy with privacy came to be a significant consideration for this young family and is achieved via shrewd adaptability of spaces.
Unwanted sound transmission was something of a constant at the Butler House. A very open, vertical path of stairs allowed sounds to travel to all corners of the dwelling – their path helped by ubiquitous reflective surfaces in steel and concrete. The challenge was to reduce sound transmission, but not to a point of isolation – the family still very much enjoyed the connection allowed by cross-level communication. The solution was found in celebrating the very thing that made this house different – it’s vertical nature.
Where the roof pod sits, atop the vertical spine, it sits within the existing structure. The existing roof structure was simply cut at the collar-tie and refashioned in a manner, minimising steel use, to allow a bed for the roof pod – a bionic upgrade of sorts. The lifting of the roof allowed us to reveal the flesh, if you will, of the dwelling within. Sitting the pod within the roofline, as opposed to above, was imperative in maintaining engagement with the house below. This way, those cooking snags on the terrace can converse with those preparing salad in the kitchen. After site analysis, it became quite clear that neighboring roof terraces were being underutilized not only due to their increased exposure to sun and wind, but their spatial disconnection from the dwellings below.
The dark, Butynol clad roof of the pod responds in size and pitch to the neighbouring rooflines, but affords residual spaces to either end, open to the sky, with glimpses to the city skyline beyond. The turf covering is both practical and playful, bolstering tension against the adjacent corrugated tin. With doors wide open, the continuity of turf well and truly blurs and line between inside and out.
The Butler House was a tricky project to approach. The defined nature of the boundaries meant a creative approach had to be adopted in order to make the most of what was available. The result is an adaptable dwelling that will grow and alter over time, just as the family will.
Architects: Andrew Maynard Architects
Location: Fitzroy, Melbourne, Australia
Project Team: Andrew Maynard, Mark Austin, Tommy Joo
Project Area: 85 sqm (new works) 44 sqm (works existing)
Project Year: 2010
Photographs: Kevin Hui