Journal entry 05 – Missing typologies I

    Houses that Sydney is missing.

    The Current Sydney suburban landscape extends for kilometres and kilometres with no end in sight, yet the streetscape is very monotonous and repetitive no matter where you look. Whether they are terrace houses or freestanding houses, whether they are 1 or 2 storeys the amount of different typologies present in the suburban landscape is very limited. The generic quarter of an acre block which is the traditional and standard Australian dream has produced a very generic and unresponsive house typology.

    As time evolves, so houses do, yet they are still all very similar and present the same set of issues.

    • Lack of natural light
    • Lack of privacy for the rooms fronting the street
    • Convoluted access to the rear garden
    • Front garden underutilised
    • Intrusive impact of the garage on the house

    Coastal suburbs and areas with steep topography are the exception to the norm, creating more interesting and unconventional house typologies due to location and site constraints.Yet, the “pole house” is also a very common staple of the Australian home typology, together with the all glass viewing room over the ocean.

    But let’s focus on that typical quarter acre lot of 15×40 m  (well, they are a bit smaller than a quarter acre these days)

    Most houses on this type of lots are one or two storey buildings that occupy almost the whole frontage of the lot, with a big garage door and a very long and narrow backyard. It’s like we didn’t spend time designing them. Oh, wait, that’s exactly what happened.

    However, we feel there are some very interesting typologies that Sydney is missing and that could offer new and exciting options. Here are a few house types we have been exploring lately:

    1. Courtyard House
    For those who instead of looking at the street or at the side fence 900 mm from their window prefer looking at their own inner courtyard. Make the most of the Australian climate and enjoy having an open air living room in the middle of the house.

    2.Party Wall House
    If you prefer having access to the garden and direct sunlight from every room in the house; a sequential design with an egalitarian touch.

    3.Periscope House
    Sometimes looking at blue skies and tree tops is nicer than looking at passers-by 3 metres away, recluse yourself to a viewing platform in the sky.

    4.Sunken House
    Maximize the landscape, minimize the impact, maintain your house cool all year around and enjoy your very own sunken courtyard and rooms filled with skylights.

    5.Snake House
    Enjoy a sequence of customized rooms, each with different dimensions, height, orientation and purpose. All strung together across the site in a sculptural form.

    6.Screen House
    A vertical screen that offers transparency, dual aspect, cross ventilation and views for each room.  A wall in the centre of the lot that can be surrounded by lush trees all around.

    7.Mountain House
    Each room has a balcony and there is a cellar/game/ media room at the heart of the house. A domestic scale Zigurat for those that want views and a hidden vault.

    8.Pavilion House
    Separate pavilions for each activity or individual. For those big families with too many things happening at the same time or just for those who need their own space.

    Interesting examples for some of these types are the Moriyama House by SANAA in the suburbs of Tokyo (Pavilion House), the Y House by MVRDV in South Korea (Periscope House) and the Villa dall’Ava in the outskirts of Paris by OMA (Snake House). Of course there are many others.

    Because a different world is possible and not that far away!

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