If you live in an old workers cottage on a narrow, inner-city site, your backyard happens to be south-facing and you're not a vampire? You may think you're cursed. Destined to never feel the warming rays of sunshine on a cold winters day. But, with some gymnastics, you can still get natural light into your home, like Mártires Doyle Architects have demonstrated at this Northcote project...
As is often the case on these tight, inner-city blocks, an extension to the rear is a balancing act: giving the home a great connection to the outdoors, while trying not to take up too much backyard space; bringing in light and breezes; and maximising the living spaces with not much room to play with. The architects were also dealing with a south-facing backyard, which meant that creating a great indoor-outdoor connection wouldn't have the benefit of bringing direct natural light into the home.
The answer was a new addition with a cranked roofline which scissors to create a series of triangular windows which let in direct light and offers views of the sky. Additional windows are snuck in along the west boundary to bring light into the kitchen and lounge.
"The sensation in moving through the old into the new house is the classic architectural experience of compression and release. Moving through a door, to a tight corridor, into a wide chamber in which openings allow for a cascade of framed views into a tree, the sky, and finally the open backyard. This procession of space allows for a cinematic experience of domesticity which is a recurring theme in the work of the practice."
The new kitchen, living and dining area is the perfect size for a young family with a child and a dog. Its ease of access to the garden expands the space to take up the whole backyard.
A window seat with built-in storage allows the home to cater to larger gatherings too. By simply rearranging some furniture and use the window seat as banquet seating would allow a large table to host an extended Christmas lunch, for example.
An external shell of COLORBOND® steel in Monument® wraps around the home, forming both the roof and the side walls, while Australian hardwood clad the rear facade, highlighting the unique profile of the home, while also giving the impression the addition has been sliced to reveal a rich interior. The timber volume cantilevers over the rear deck, creating a sheltered and rich threshold between inside and out.
You're not cursed to a life with no light simply because you have a south-facing backyard. With a little clever thinking, the need for natural light could become the defining feature of your new, unique home. Mártires Doyle Architects have created a beautiful family home in spite of the constraints. In fact, the constraints are part of what makes the outcome so special.