123 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy 3065 Vic., Australia
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E&W office(at)archarch.com.au



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Fifty Fifty

This Murrumbeena extension is partly inspired by the original 1950s home and partly by the modernist Case Study houses of the same decade. 1950s meets 1950s. About half of each. We’re talking fifty-fifty vision. That’s sharp.

The original house is in good condition, has great charm, and is characteristic of the area: it’s fully detached, has a gabled slate roof, red brick walls, white fenestration and features stepped corbel details. Extending to the side and to the rear of the house, it was decided to retain as much of the original as possible and to honour its virtues with a contemporary interpretation.

Location   Murrumbeena
Completed  2016
Awards  2017, ArchiTeam Awards, finalist
Photos  Derek Swalwell
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(Fragment 5)

‘Feelings are facts’, Olafur Eliasson, 2010

(Fragment 5)

The Eyes of The Skin

In The Eyes of the Skin, Juhani Pallasmaa laments architects’ tendency to preference vision over the other senses. He advocates for an architecture that is visually indistinct, that we may become sensorially immersed in our environments. Artist Olafur Eliasson seems to align himself with this thesis, creating works of spectral saturation and immersion. As the visual realm closes in, participants draw upon the other senses to understand the space they occupy. Dan Graham similarly plays tricks with reflectivity and transparency to blur spatial information, creating intriguing environments from very simple geometries.

Let the flesh, imperfect, see
What eyes, precise, forget.

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The side extension, visible from the street, somewhat mirrors the original house. For clarity, the mirror line is marked by a vertical zip of projecting white bricks. Either side of this line is the chimney, in true facsimile. Thereafter things get distorted as the stepped corbel brickwork is magnified through the architectural looking glass.

To the rear, the extension appears as a neutral field of white blade walls supporting a thin, flat roof. The original roofline remains visible and the red brick house is merely veiled, appearing almost as if untouched. These new white walls create deep, shady thresholds for outdoor seating, dining and reclining, while concealing new bedrooms and new living quarters in their protective shade.
(see Fragment 1)
(see Fragment 5)

(Fragment 1)

‘An Oak Tree’, Michael Craig-Martin, 1973

(Fragment 1)

An Oak Tree

There was a minor movement in poetry called Martian Poetry, which sought to ‘break the grip of the familiar’ by describing ordinary things in unfamiliar ways – the world described as if through the eyes of a Martian. Poet Craig Raine describes the act of reading a book, as if observing this strange act for the first time:

mechanical birds with many wings
perch on the hand
cause the eyes to melt
or the body to shriek without pain

In An Oak Tree (pictured), artist Michael Craig-Martin attempts to jolt our conception of the world by telling us that “an oak tree is physically present but in the form of the glass of water.” His assertion forces us to come to terms with a violent disjunct between what we see and what we’re told.

These ideas hold interesting lessons for the designer who seeks to make visible those aspects of our lives rendered invisible by habits of behaviour.

Such concerns are present in the work of the Psychogeographers who, in the 1950’s, described their endeavours as “a whole toy box full of playful, inventive strategies for exploring cities…just about anything that takes pedestrians off their predictable paths and jolts them into a new awareness of the urban landscape.”

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Working with Architecture architecture was a great experience.
We’re still discovering angles and views in our house that surprise and delight. The result is fantastic!

Joe and Louise

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