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Feature article




Extension House _ Photographs by Peter Bennetts

WORDS BY Joshua McAlister

Architecture Architecture is a Victorian based architecture firm that has been established for just over two years. During this time the majority of Architecture Architecture’s built work consists of inner city residential insertions and extensions. When reviewing their design methodology it is evident the importance they place on the effect the built environment has on the individual.

“We believe it is critical that people are conscious of the effect that the built environment has on social relations – whether it’s in the home, the office or the city. Only when people are conscious of the effects of their environment, are they empowered to engage with those environments in an informed way. We feel this empowerment is key to the development of sustainable, democratic, healthy cities.”

Although appropriate for a residential context the goal is to extend this methodology to broader social and cultural interests including the design of civic anchors of a city.

Under the directorship of Michael Roper and Nick James, Architecture Architecture have developed a theoretical manifesto that sits alongside their architectural practice. The manifesto touches on surrealist themes including making the familiar strange. This manifesto informs their design methodology by encouraging the designers to utilise such devices as ambiguity, reassigned meaning, awkwardness, blurriness and the uncanny. The impact of this manifesto can be read in their built work.

“In our practice, we are interested in the capacity of the strange and the uncanny to refocus those aspects of the built environment that are rendered invisible by habits of behaviour and aesthetic value.”

Architecture Architecture make a point of finding the extraordinary in every project, expressing that “sometimes the most limiting brief can be the most liberating, taking us into territories we would otherwise not think to tread.”

Extension House _ Photographs by Peter Bennetts

A recent example of this response is a residential project entitled the Extension House. As the name describes, this project is an extension to an existing inner city residential home. The rectilinear form of the house has been stretched from the north-west corner of the floor plan towards the backyard. Now stretched, new living areas of kitchen, dining room, study and outdoor deck have been allowed to breathe with a new orientation and warped form.

The new extension aims to complete the house by moulding the new forms out of the existing structure rather than connecting new form onto the rear of the property. This seamless extension increases amenity, improves function and introduces daylight to the living spaces.

The most notable effect of the built form is in the backyard with a back deck, an arbour and the dining room extending north into the yard. Reminiscent of the Gehry Residence, the extension stretches and distorts the square geometry out into the backyard to create a varied form.

Increasing the impression of spaciousness seems to be a key driver for the extension and is no more evident than when the new ceiling lifts to the full height of the A-frame roof. The manipulation of the ceiling line provides an increase in volume to that of the original Californian bungalow with the new ceiling clad as a beautifully crafted plywood vault.