What does it mean to feel? To really feel. It’s a rare thing these days. Much of our human existence has been watered down to a shadow of what it could be. We often accept the artificial, treating it as our new normal. i.e. Our homes only offer comfort via mechanical means; there is an emphasis and value placed on the amount of space versus the quality of space. At a relational level, interactions are increasingly digital, and we get a sense of worth from the anticipation of a high number. It all amounts to a shallow level of daily participation and interaction.
Yet, there are those times where we know without a doubt that a true experience has been had. These offer us cues of who and what we truly are. That is sensory human beings.
Over the Easter break, our family made a day trip to Kondalilla Falls on the outskirts of Montville, Queensland. Jumping off the rocks into the fresh flowing water void of chlorine and other nasties was so rejuvenating and fun. It was a reminder that places, spaces, and experiences still exist where one can come away feeling alive.
Unfortunately, for most of us, the length of time separating these moments are few and far between. As a designer, it disgusts me how little effort and attention is paid to the creation of sensory dwellings. Much of our housing stock is more about the future than the here and now.
As humans, we live moment by moment. Yet, what we build is a sort of guess, a speculation that anticipates market trends or values over liveability. It makes one wonder what we are missing as a result of these compromises.
Considering this, my design efforts, in general, are focused on crafting space into a set of diverse and varied experiences. It’s not trying to control or defined use, it is, in fact, allowing for the anticipation of differing engagements with others through space, material and landscape changes.
In the Burman Residence, we are attempting to do just this. We have deliberately created three layers or parameters in plan that allow for strong contrasts. These zones all offer different qualities that one can interact with depending on the time of year, the weather and the need for social interaction or privacy.
The first and most outer layer is made up of deep landscape planting. Over time it will mature and create a green habitat at the edges of the property. The outer limits have setbacks that are somewhat strange due to the developer setting a predetermined building envelope before land sale. Therefore, we have three sides that vary in depth, between 4.5m and 9m in scale. With these sizes available to us we can create pockets of varying density and colour to be enjoyed.
The second layer is internal. In yet another unorthodox move by the developer, the western road frontage has been allowed a zero-allotment approval by council. This is typically never done let alone agreed upon by the governing authorities.
Having said this, a zero setback as the primary frontage presents an interesting opportunity for a controlled public engagement. The location of the site is in a quite cultersack. Therefore, we have created a deck that offers a connection to the neighborhood and an area for keeping an eye on the kids play.
The final layer as it relates to the three is the inner court. This is a private space at the heart of the floor plan. It is totally outside and is surrounded by precast concrete panels. The idea of having an internal courtyard allows for a more direct engagement with outside as the internals all relate too, and benefit from it. Not only does it allow for a secure sanctuary, but from a passive solar perspective, it acts as a light well for bedrooms and a ventilator to the internal public spaces.
The Burman Residence explores another idea that is currently informing a lot of work on the drawing board within our office. This is to produce symmetry then adding complexity rather than designing in a disparate manner and attempting to join the dots.
When one observes the north and south elevations, the first obvious visual is the balance of structure and form. By starting from this position the canvas from which to work is clean and simple. Each element that is added beyond does not compete with the initial idea but rather adds to its profile. In our architecture, we always attempt to create a balance between micro and macro detail. This equilibrium creates a poise in how the parts relate to the whole.
Please feel free to check out the plans and images. The home is currently in design development. We look forward to updating you as things progress.