The house is primarily a response to site and local government planning limitations. With the requirement to house a family of 5 while achieving a large outdoor living space and pool we approached the project as more of a vertical than horizontal composition of spaces. Council requirements stipulated that no more than 20% of the land area could be classified as ‘overheight’. They also required on site parking for two cars off the adjacent laneway. This forced/allowed us to force part of the home underground which achieved improved thermal performance and intimacy while achieving the street appearance of a single level home – though it is the upper level that is read from the street. Covered outdoor space was also a requirement so the upper level was used as a shelter for the sunken outdoor living space. Another of the driving ideas was thermal mass. The lower level shell is constructed in concrete as most of the perimeter walls are retaining or completely subterranean. The upper level however is more exposed to the sun and therefore has been constructed almost entirely in timber for its low thermal mass. Internally the lower (public/living) level has a different treatment to the upper (private – bedrooms, bathrooms and study) level. The lower level is a mainly open space of exposed raw concrete structure mixed with American Oak paneling and storage walls. The upper level takes on a more enclosed, private feel with timber detailing and simple white plaster surfaces. Green views have been achieved from all areas.
Context of the project
The house is set in a post-war inner suburban street in Perth’s Western Suburbs. The surrounding homes are a mixture of small workers cottages and Californian bungalows. The house takes on a similar scale to the surrounding homes and despite its slightly brutal rectilinear shape does not dominate the street. The upper level materials (timber) reflects nearby weatherboard homes and street trees.
Appropriate thermal mass solutions have been achieved in both the subterranean and above ground sections of the home. The lower level requires occasional cooling (through concealed air conditioning) in summer but in winter no heating is required. The upper (exposed) level avoids heat build up through the use of double stud construction and lightweight cedar cladding to the outer walls. The operable timber shutters to the western facade provide complete protection from the hot western sun and can be adjusted to moderate natural light levels throughout the day. The roof uses foam panel technology.
Shenton Park House, Western Australia, by David Smith Studio