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G3: Case Study House for 3 groups

Part 1 Project 2002
Kate Foran
Aaron Peters
Queensland University of Technology Brisbane Australia
Integrated Urbanism

The concept of integration emerged from a desire to immerse the experimental dwelling into the surrounding landscape, whilst maintaining significant features of the site.

Integration was pursued in many aspects of the design. It was fundamental in the positioning of the dwelling on the site, spatial planning, material selection and the creation of spatial experience.

Brisbane’s benign climate provides a year round outdoor culture. The dwelling was designed to maximise this outdoor culture by providing outdoor spaces for each studio and also a large communal outdoor space. This allows the outdoors to be integrated with the indoors, thus blurring the edge between public and private spaces.

The materials for the studios were selected in response to the immediate surroundings, but were used in unconventional, experimental methods. Each studio is constructed from different materials, allowing identification by the various occupants.

The control and play of light was instrumental in creating internal experiential qualities. By manipulating the roof structure of the dwelling, the dappled light effects on the surrounding forest floor were re-created. The experiential and spatial qualities created through integration and the control of light are best described in metaphorical terms as “walking through the forest”.

Through the concept of integration, this scheme attempts to investigate and re-define the relationship between the built and natural environment within an urban context.

Kate Foran
Aaron Peters

BACKGROUND: Students were asked to develop a one-off display house for shared accommodation. This house was to be open for public inspection, and therefore located in the Brisbane City Botanical Gardens. The intent was to encourage Brisbane residents to rethink appropriate housing forms and their relationships to the landscape; in a society where the single family unit is no longer the dominant dwelling type, the existing housing stock nevertheless fails to reflect this demographic shift. While individuals may live in unsuitable accommodation for singles and couples, many Brisbane households are also comprised of shared households. Nevertheless, current dwelling typologies fail to address the delicate balance between public and private space required in a share household. The brief therefore asked students to develop a house that could tolerate 3 different groups of people, with some shared facilities and utilities; a single academic; a single parent and child requiring wheelchair access; and an adult couple with an additional adult.

Commentary on Student Response

In the sub-tropical climate of Brisbane, people are drawn to live in ways that celebrate the outdoors. Consequently, much of the Australian vernacular in this area focuses on outdoor space and thus challenges distinct divisions between indoor and outdoor zones. The strength of Kate’s project resides in her response to the landscape of the existing gardens, and its abstraction into a sensual materiality. While other students located their projects in a public thoroughfare, away from existing trees, Kate embedded her building within the heart of a ‘forested’ space in the Gardens. Through her research, Kate identified significant and insignificant trees in this area and was thus able to argue for the removal of certain trees, whilst accommodating valuable trees in her project. Unlike the stereotypical ‘Australian shed’ response to the landscape, this project provided a retreat from the harsh sun whilst maintaining a unique and site-specific relationship to the landscape. Similarly, her choice of materials abstracted and emerged from the buildings location within the dappled rainforest: local bluestone walls, grass-covered terraces, copper sheeting and a living green façade gave richness to her modest formal expression and subtle planning. The shared spaces also became cave-like interiors of filtered and reflected light. These interiors are a constructed, abstract landscape designed through perspectives and spatial sequencing, rather than through a concern for sculptural form.

Kate’s project shows a level of material awareness uncharacteristic of her peers in second year of the course. While the project is quite modest, its merit resides in its embrace of fundamental architectural concerns for material presence. In the context of the contemporary architectural world of digital media and complex tectonics, students frequently focus on the lure of the architectural image and seductive idea. Kate’s project is a refreshing reminder of architecture’s material and experiential potential.

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