The Secret Behind the Facade...
A highly minimalist facade hides a sparkling light box...
The dark, minimalist facade of this South Melbourne home is hiding a light, bright secret.
Law Street House is constructed from a surprising material -- plate steel. From the outside it looks solid and secure. Inside, a double height light shaft encourages sunlight to dance across the walls.
Never judge a home by its facade...
Light Patterns: A double height corridor with glass roof lets shafts of light into the house, making dancing patterns on the wall.
Law Street House
Architects Bruno Mendes and Amy Muir set out to create a home for themselves -- built with their own hands. The result is a beautifully detailed home that plays with light.
The home took three and a half years to construct and was juggled between full-time architectural practice. Joe Mendes, a relation of Bruno's, manages steel fabrication for a construction company. Using steel as a construction material -- including steel-framing and plate steel details -- was an obvious choice. Tallow-wood for the flooring material, combined with the steel construction, makes the home termite proof to boot!
Steely desk: Elements of plate steel throughout the house have a clean, minimal feel. An opening to the void behind this desk reveals light-art on the wall.
Unique Openings: A variety of unique 'slices' throughout the home let shafts of light into rooms. A narrow slice above the bed allows for some stargazing before slipping off to sleep. How romantic.
Angled Walls: Walls are angled throughout the home, creating abstract shades and shapes. The angled walls also ensure neighbouring properties are not overshadowed. Style and substance.
Steel and Felt: Even the stairs are crafted out of plate steel. Charcoal felt-like material lines several of the walls to prevent echoes and improve the acoustics.
Drawbridge Window: The steel facade gives little away from the street. But it does match the height of the cottage next door and mimics the shape of the original worker's cottage on the site. A draw-bridge style window can be opened to let in light or air, or closed off to ensure privacy and safety.
Double Height Light-Well: The entry corridor is double height with a glass ceiling which lets the light deep into the home and creates playful shadows. It highlights the view of an established palm tree.
Upon entry, the double height corridor directs the gaze through the full length skylight to capture a view of the existing palm tree. This is the opposite to traditional cottage corridors which are notoriously dark and dingy.
The corridor becomes a light-well. It maximises "the penetration of natural light to the interior and provides an aspect ‘out’ of the tight site. The white walls play host to the passage of light that dances across the interior as the day passes, patterning the walls as it moves."
Remembering the Lean-To
The lines of the original lean-to on the site are mimicked on the ceiling of the ground floor. Care has been taken at the back of the home to fit with council guidelines and avoid overshadowing the neighbours. This creates angled walls which (as well as being practical) create interesting light and shade patterns.
A Surprising Light-Box
From the front, this home keeps an intentionally low profile. But inside, it's awash with dancing light patterns and abstract shapes.
The home is deceptively simple. The attention to detail is a testament to the fastidiousness of owner/builder/architects, Muir Mendes. Law Street House is a delightful gem that looks inwards and captures the play of light, making the most of a difficult site.