In response to increasing population densities in the suburbs, the Australian government over 10 years ago introduced strict town planning guidelines specific to residential projects. Dual occupancy developments are new dwellings inserted into backyards of existing houses with a min. ‘leftover’ area of 300m2. In addition to planning constraints defined by setbacks from the title boundary, the proposal had to be single storey, provide facility for 2 car parking spaces, outdoor amenity areas and steer clear of existing unbuildable sewer and water supply infrastructure. The site is flanked on all sides of conventional brick veneer dwellings typical to most Australian suburbs. The challenges of the site extrapolated a transparent building, the intent being that a clear line of sight would artificially enlarge the building. The widths of the room or spaces are kept to a minimum to keep the structure simple and save on costs. There is not a single steel beam or column. The spaces flare out dimensionally and in sequence as deemed necessary by the pragmatics of functionality specific to the use of those rooms. Costs saved were consequently spent on better finishes and environmentally sustainable features such as rainwater harvesting for toilet flushing, garden taps and high quality insulation materials. The external cladding selected does not require an applied finish. The vertical slot window to the study is a leftover timber structural member found and fabricated onsite. The building’s overshadowing pattern is used as shade rather than constructing a separate roof covering. Often in dual occupancy developments, physical title boundaries are blurred, where private, public and common property begins and terminates. The proverbial Australian timber paling fence is celebrated, a material used in practically every building typology throughout Australia and consistent with the Australian vernacular. It is abstractly applied to the entry door to explicitly delineate where ‘private’ begins and a reminder of what was previously there.
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