12.06.2019

Cover Story – Project Napier

JFK Design Landscape/Buildings/Interiors won an award in the BDAV’s 2018 Building Design Awards for their Project Napier in the category of Best Small Lot Design. The project also received a commendation in the Residential Design Alterations & Addition - $250-$500k construction cost; and won the Best Small Dwelling Design up to 150 sqm in the 2018 NABD Awards.

• One of Melbourne’s smallest houses revisited
• Entertainer’s house created on a small site
• Light, height and simplicity create feeling of spaciousness on a tight block
• Zones within zones
• Indoor/outdoor connection
• Clean lines concealing utility (“It was a good exercise in the age-old art of stacking programme and concealment.”)
• Constraints: no windows to the side, narrow form (townhouse row), heritage guidelines.

This tiny house presents as a quaint and meek semi-detached terrace. But once inside, the designer has transformed it into a brilliant example of how to balance heritage values with the desire for modern amenity. Interior zones, defined by a variety of floor and ceiling heights, hidden amenities and clever interior design ensure the open-plan ground floor footprint appears to expand before you. The two bedrooms, bathroom and study nook at first floor, combined with the ‘tardis-like’ ground floor attributes and floor-to-ceiling glassed connection to the rear courtyard ensure this little beauty punches well above its weight.
Judging Panel
Finding what's going to make the most impact and working within restrictions always generates strong responses, because you've got to react to the constraints.
Jackson Kelly, JFK Design

At only 3.2m wide and with a total area of 82sqm, housing lots don’t get much smaller than this.  The BDAV judges said “This tiny house presents as a quaint and meek semi-detached terrace.  But once inside, the designer has transformed it into a brilliant example of how to balance heritage values with the desire for modern amenity.  Interior zones, defined by a variety of floor and ceiling heights, hidden amenities and clever interior design ensure the open-plan ground floor footprint appears to expand before you.  The two bedrooms, bathroom and study nook at first floor, combined with the ‘tardis-like’ ground floor attributes and floor-to-ceiling glassed connection to the rear courtyard ensure this little beauty punches well above its weight.”

A bright, spacious, home built for entertaining seemed overly optimistic for a narrow 1857 terrace row renovation on one of Melbourne’s smallest lots. And yet, that is just what the designers achieved with Project Napier in South Melbourne.

“Finding what’s going to make the most impact and working within restrictions always generates strong responses,” says Jackson Kelly of JFK Design, “because you’ve got to react to the constraints”.

With a site footprint of just 84sqm, measuring just 3.2m across, and with party walls on both sides, an innovative approach was required to achieve the client’s brief. Part of the solution lay in the manipulation of vertical space.

Although setback requirements presented height restrictions for the first-floor addition, this was partly overcome by borrowing height from the mid-section of the floor below. To balance this contraction of the kitchen volume, the floor level steps down into the living room beyond, and a raised ceiling here meets bi-fold, floor-to-ceiling, steel-framed doors, extending the entertaining space as it opens to the courtyard. Though technically difficult to achieve, with sub-floor waterproofing required, this sunken lounge proved a clever design solution, as the raised ceiling and lowered floor levels serve to break up any possible tunnel effect in the open plan, ground-floor length.

Clean lines and utility concealment make efficient use of space, with the fridge, pantry and laundry all screened behind custom, floor-to-ceiling joinery. The long, slim, island bench appears credenza-like from the dining room entry, helping to extend the illusion of more space in the kitchen. A void beneath the far end of the island offers an additional informal dining perch, but also echoes the transparency of the open stairs beyond, amplifying the visual connection with the rear courtyard.

With no possibility of windows on either side, the designers looked to the heavens. On the first floor, running the length of the stair volume, a generous skylight is set hard against the boundary, washing both levels with natural light. A second skylight in the first-floor bathroom combines with mirrors to expand the space.

Expansive steel-framed windows in the second bedroom offer filtered skyline views and echo the courtyard bi-folds below. In the second bedroom, roof windows also bring in natural light and take in views of the surrounding treetops.

In a nod to the original terrace home, Oregon timber was reclaimed and re-purposed for detailing in the upstairs study nook and bedroom joinery.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Designer:                           JFK Design Landscape/Buildings/Interiors

Website:                             www.jfkdesign.com.au

Builder  :                            Corio Bay Constructions

Building Surveyor:          Red Textas Pty Ltd

Structural Engineers:     Richard Lingard and Associates

Energy Rater:                   Compliance Energy Rating

Consulting Geologists:    Southern Geotechnical Pty Ltd

Land Surveyor:                SRW Surveyors Pty Ltd

Town Planning:               Keen Planning

Photographer:                 Grant Kennedy, We Shoot Buildings

Major suppliers for the project:   Paddys bricks Kensington; Yates Fabrication; Reinzinc-zinc; Colorbond; BlueScope; BAM; Velux; Bell design; Timber Zoo Geelong; Treetex floor finishes; Scyon; Boral; Allfloors; E&S Trading; Foster Hydronic Heating ; Heat and Glo Richmond; CS Sliders; Polycrete; Autex; Kingspan; Rogersellar & Reece; Hub Furniture; Beaumont Tiles; Artedomus; Kitchen Wizard Geelong.