• 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.
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.
Designer: JFK Design Landscape/Buildings/Interiors
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.