Fairbairn House by Inglis Architects located in Melbourne, Australia

Fairbairn House by Inglis Architects located in Melbourne, Australia | The Hardt

 

Fairbairn House by Inglis Architects located in Melbourne, Australia. The site on which the house was built presented its own set of intricacies and opportunities. The narrow site is bound by houses on either side but is fortunate to face parks at both the front and the rear. This rare find in inner-city Melbourne is initially what attracted the client. The small site is located in a suburb where house and land sizes are traditionally big. The client wanted to create a generous house that was spatially in keeping with those in the area. A simple architectural language of masonry, timber & stone was enlisted for the house. The materials are exposed for what they are, chosen for their unique character and pushed to their physical extents. Whether through brick perforated screens, steel cantilevers or custom timber claddings.

 


 

There was great emphasis placed on the front façade due to the house being infill between neighboring buildings. It was our ambition that the house engaged with its environment and the individual. A key strategy employed to do this involved layering up the front elevation to the street to create depth as opposed to a flat facade. The house presents itself to the public and does not seek refuge behind a fence. Whilst doing so it only hints of its inner workings through materiality allowing a mounting of suspense. The breezeway brick screen is a key device and creates these necessary layers. It serves multiple purposes. The first being a strong idea of entry by creating a secondary landscaped space which gives the property a sense of intimacy.

 

 


 

The steel entry canopy folds out between the screen welcoming you and it’s at this point that there is a mental and physical threshold where one moves from the public to the private. The second purpose was to create a permanent privacy screen for the Master bedroom which was situated at the front of the house so that it could engage with the adjacent park. From the exterior the architectural language purposely allows the building to interact with its environment. Exaggerated cantilevered steel beams frame views and the expansive timber cladding acts a blank canvas for the changing shadows that it creates.

 


 

Upon entry to the house, it was our ambition to create a feeling of generosity through space and materiality. This was done by reducing the uses of the ground floor. The living area was naturally located at the rear of the site to embrace the park. This allowed for the bedrooms to be elevated to the treetops on the first floor and created privacy whilst retaining views. The client’s spatial needs meant the building’s envelope spread from boundary to boundary. It was, therefore, important to enliven the program of the house and this was achieved by the insertion of a courtyard. This brought life to the plan, landscape inside the house whilst also allowing Northern light to penetrate the floorplan over the two stories. The house is refreshing. It requires minimal furnishing to feel warm and hospitable due to the soft natural finishes. The floorboards, stone, and masonry here are on show and the light fittings and furniture are purposefully simple and pared back allowing the interiors to breathe. It feels raw whilst achieving elegance through composition, texture, volume light and program.

 

© Derek Swalwell

 

 

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