In a Townsville neighbourhood defined by humble Queenslander cottages and a network of laneways, Laneway House designed by 9point9 Architects is an understated modern home in a traditional neighbourhood.
Laneway House challenges the norms of this traditional neighbourhood. But it's not easy being different. The clients' desire for a modern home in this established neighbourhood presented challenges as well as the numerous opportunities.
As opposed to the box-like Queenslanders in the area, Laneway House is elongated across the length of the block, split in half to provide space for a generous central courtyard. This design improves natural light, encourages breezes and creates a beautiful, seamless connection to the outdoors.
Two seperate wings wrap around the central courtyard, connected by a breezeway clad in translucent fibreglass sheeting. During the day this bright walkway provides a airy link between the living/guest zone and the master bedroom suite. At night, the breezeway transforms into a diffuse lantern for the courtyard and outdoor dining area.
The floor area of the home has been minimised without sacrificing functionality. Cleverly, the dining area and garage are flexible covered outdoor spaces, perfect for Townsville's tropical climate. This leaves space for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home in just 135 square metres - maximising living space within the budget.
A challenge of the narrow site and elongated plan was the provision of adequate eaves for sun and rain protection in a tropical climate. Of course 9point9 Architects had a solution up their sleeves. Insulated reverse block veneer walls provides great protection from the heat of the Queensland sun, while also meeting the clients' desire for raw, honest finishes and minimal maintenance. Plus, the mottled grey of the block work becomes a striking counterpoint to timber and black accents - creating a rich material palette.
The courtyard arrangement overcomes the issues with light and privacy caused by building close to the boundaries. This private oasis in the middle of the home encourages natural ventilation and is supplemented with skylights to provide natural light throughout the home.
9point9 Architects worked closely with the client and builder to minimise costs without sacrificing quality. Through careful material selection and simplifying construction methods, the project managed to achieve a lot within the budget.
The Laneway House demonstrates the benefits of investing in design. Design decisions can improve occupants' quality of life and maximise outcomes within a limited budget.