Three Piece House by TRIAS

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Location: Stockton, New South Wales, Australia
Area: 137 m2
Year: 2018



Awards

2018 AIA NSW ARCHITECTURE AWARD HOUSES (NEW)

2018 AIA NEWCASTLE AWARD FOR SUSTAINABILITY



Architects: TRIAS

Artworks: Mazie Turner, Jordy Hewitt
Selected furniture: Seeho Su, Armadillo & Co, Muji

Photography: © Benjamin Hosking



Three Piece House is a courtyard house, designed for a couple looking to downsize and live more simply. The project places a modest, single-storey house and a studio on its site. These buildings are skewed to follow the site’s boundaries, and cluster to create privacy on this exposed corner lot. The project proposes a new neighbourhood condition that is small and dense, with two discrete dwellings on a conventional suburban site.

The site is defined by a distinctive wedge shape, with close neighbours on two sides. A further challenge came in the form of a flood control, which required the building to be raised 1.5m above ground. In contrast to a conventional architectural response – which might lift the house up on stilts – Three Piece House is placed on a solid brick base. This elevates the building above the flood plain and lends it an unexpected feeling of heft and permanence. The resulting place feels anchored, despite being battered by coastal weather.

This design approach was inspired by Jørn Utzon’s text, ‘Platforms and Plateaus,’ and the architect’s courtyard houses. Three Piece House appropriates this strategy for an Australian setting, using brick platforms to mediate between house and ground.

Three Piece House uses the full extent of its site, encouraging life to take place within, between and beyond the building. Courtyards and gardens ramble between the pavilions, which are unified by their brick base. The scale of this platform is further broken down by brick steps, seating edges and planter beds, which will soon be lush with native plants.

Moving inside, the architectural arrangement is simple yet dynamic. The main house is composed of two pavilions – one for living, and one for sleeping. A reading corridor, which bridges between, faces out to the garden and, in winter, is bathed in northern sun. The brick paving continues through this space, unifying inside and out.

The studio, meanwhile, sits as a discrete, and yet related, volume in the garden. It provides accommodation for visiting friends, family and guests. Throughout Three Piece House, the rooms maintain a compact footprint that is balanced by generous ceilings and carefully cropped openings. Walking around the house, the spaces reveal themselves slowly, via constantly shifting views and vignettes.

The two main courtyards have distinctive characters: one is extroverted and public, the other introverted and private. The southern porch, which faces the river, is a space for neighbourly chats and watching street life go by. The northern courtyard, meanwhile, is a sheltered space for retreat and family gatherings. It is shaded overhead by deciduous vines, providing a simple and time-honoured approach to passive heating and cooling.

The materiality of Three Piece House is robust and resilient, as befits a windswept, coastal site. The textures and tones of the house are raw and rugged, and have been deliberately chosen to become more beautiful as they age. The skillion forms are clad in a radially-sawn Silvertop Ash, which will grey over time. This resource-conscious product uses felled timber as efficiently as possible, minimising wastage and celebrating the timber’s rough grain.

The solid masonry base, meanwhile, is rendered in earthen-red tones that are colour-matched to the recycled brick paving and the rusted reds of passing ships. The bricks reappear throughout the interior, emerging as an anchored island bench and  a fireplace hearth.

The platform is built from recycled bricks that were sourced on-site. These were repurposed from the old house, a dilapidated 1940’s bungalow that we dismantled with our client. This approach is both inherently sustainable, and an act of storytelling: the new home sits upon the bones of the building before it. Philosophically, the gesture speaks of use and re-use; poetry and memory.

Elsewhere, the house pursues principles of sustainability. It employs cross and stack ventilation, thermal mass, water collection, and eroded eaves, which provide shade. The house can be tweaked and adjusted to suit the prevailing season and weather. In summer, the house is cooled by ocean breezes, and the courtyard will be covered by deciduous vines. In winter, a fireplace warms the living pavilion, while the brick corridor soaks up sun. The home also implements solar panels and battery storage, which supply the home with most of its energy needs.

The interior spaces are large, open volumes that maintain a human scale. Corner openings peel back to reveal greenery and views, while high windows exhale air and offer slivers of sun and sky. These openings allow light to creep across walls and floors in animated paths – a daily testament to time passing. Elsewhere, the house embraces the prosaic beauty of its suburb, framing views of the river and neighbouring streets.

Across this project, the budget is spent thoughtfully, focusing on details that improve the client’s daily life: a series of pendant lights suspended in corners, touches of brass for tactility, and a tiled bench for washing in old age. This house is defined by a spirit of ‘less but better,’ with every decision a careful negotiation of longevity and value.

With the house comprising 114m2 – and the studio measuring 22m2 – this is a project that prioritises simplicity and necessity. It questions what constitutes ‘enough’ when we build houses and make homes. Three Piece House is a dynamic and distinctive piece of architecture, that is at once crafted and unpretentious.It is a testament to small living in suburbia.

TRIAS


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All images courtesy of TRIAS

TRIAS


TRIAS is an emerging architecture studio based in Sydney, Australia. Since its establishment in 2016, TRIAS has quickly developed a reputation for thoughtful and thorough design work.

The studio is founded on three principles: to create buildings that are solid, simple and beautiful. These ideals tie our work to the origins of architecture, which Vitruvius defined as firmness, commodity and delight.

TRIAS is currently completing projects across Australia, and has received recognition in numerous local and international competitions.


CONTACT

34 Kings Lane Darlinghurst. NSW 2010


VISIT

TRIAS


 

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Sawmill by Olson Kundig

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Location: Tehachapi, California, USA
Area: 4170.0 ft2
Year: 2014


 


Awards

2018 AIA National COTE Top Ten Award
2017 AIA National Housing Awards, Honor Award2017 AIA Northwest Pacific Region Citation Award
2017 Chicago Athenaeum, American Architecture Awards, American Architecture Award


Architects: Olson Kundig

Design Principal: Tom Kundig
Project Manager: Elizabeth Bianchi Conklin

Photography: Kevin Scott, Gabe Border



Set in the harsh high desert of California, Sawmill is a family retreat embedded into the tough, scrubby landscape. Sawmill harnesses the challenges and opportunities of its remote site, emphasizing sustainable strategies and reclaimed materials. Demonstrating that high design can also be high performance, Sawmill is a net-zero home that operates completely off the grid.

The client brief called for a self-sufficient home that maximized connection between architecture and nature, and between family members inside. Riffing on the tradition of tents around a campfire, the house is comprised of three wings connected by the central hearth in the living area. Here, a 12-by-26-foot window wall retracts with the turn of a wheel, transforming the outdoor patio into the fourth “tent” around the fire.

Tough as nails, Sawmill is made from durable materials that can withstand the harsh climate, where fires are a major hazard in summer and winters are extremely cold. The design approach was driven by a scavenger mentality, seeking always to do more with less, including using salvaged and recycled materials whenever possible.

Carefully sited to minimize disturbance to its remote environment, Sawmill acknowledges that while the desert is harsh, it is also fragile. Historically, the valley had been used for mining, ranching and logging – hence the name “Sawmill.” Recognizing this past exploitation of the site, the homeowners wanted their house to give back to the land, rather than take from it. Sawmill stands as a testament to high design as an environmental ethic – a building that connects people to place.

Olson Kundig

All images courtesy of Olson Kundig

 


Olson Kundig