Melbourne-based Andrew Maynard Architects faced an interesting challenge while renovating a weatherboard home in Victoria, Australia: How do you substantially increase space to accommodate a family of four without building a giant home that would be out of place in the neighborhood?
The solution is what Maynard calls the “anti-monolith” Tower House, a collection of living spaces that is similar to a small village and doubled the home's square footage. “The house defies logic as the exterior appears to be a series of small structures, while internally the spaces and functions are large and connected,” says Maynard.
The project involved the renovation of the existing house to include two bedrooms, a bathroom, and two living spaces; the new structure houses the master suite, kitchen and dining rooms, and study. The addition runs along the southern boundary of the lot and receives ample sunlight. Double-glazed windows, a retractable awning, and white walls and roofs help reduce heat gain.
The owners, a young couple with twin sons, asked for a home that incorporated community and nature, reflected by a communal vegetable patch on the front lawn. “The rest of the garden has a high fence around it; however, you can see through the fence and, importantly, the fences can be left open wide,” says Maynard.
Flexibility is also inherent in the design, as sliding panels within the walls can divide rooms into smaller areas to provide privacy and even allow the home to eventually function as “two separate zones with distinct entries” when the children are older, according to the architect.
The home uses classic clean lines, wood finishes, and neutral colors; however, the house also takes advantage of opportunities for whimsy, most notably in the children’s study. The only two-story structure in the compound, the room features a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf and double desk on the lower level. However, its most notable feature requires looking up: A hanging net on the second level provides a place that occupants can climb on to sit, relax, or work. The room “is designed to inspire the boys as they grow and learn,” Maynard says.
Similar surprising spaces are present throughout the rest of the house: a nook above cabinets in the kitchen can be reached by climbing cubby-holes in the side of the furniture, and a library with extensive built-in shelving and seating contains an almost-hidden desk that opens to a view of the garden and custom stained glass.
While most builders may not want to start making net floors a standard feature in their homes just yet, the spirit of the home demonstrates a way to create functional and adaptable designs for families, with distinct touches of character.