Project: Datum House
Architects: FIGR Architecture & Design
Location: Ascot Vale, Victoria, Australia
Area: 2,045 sq ft
Photographs by: Tom Blachford & Kate Ballis
Datum House by FIGR Architecture & Design
The Datum House is a modern family home located on a long and narrow strip of land in Melbourne’s inner suburb Ascot Vale. It was designed by the Melbourne based FIGR Architecture & Design with an idea of being a modern dwelling lighted by the sun while it opens up views to the grassy outdoors. It is placed on a heavily sloped site where the front was on a much lower elevation that the back end. This opened up a unique opportunity for the architects to do something drastic.
From the architects: “When presented at the street elevation, Datum House borrows from the neighboring properties in roof form and material references. The project takes inspiration from its surroundings and context and reinterprets its findings through a contemporary take on a traditional Victorian elevation, resulting in a considered outcome and street integration. We started off with our client’s extensive brief for a home that had to house a growing family of 5. Our domestic container envelope was derived from a simple extrusion of the Victorian cottage silhouette, placed onto the narrow sloping site to set up a defined datum. The outcome is a result of the envelope being manipulated by the surrounding context, the required amenity and its negotiation with the existing site constraints.
The split-level arrangement was a response to the conditions of the sloping site and the site constraints of the neighbouring dwellings. The program has been carefully arranged and contained within the extruded envelope to respond to the rescode requirements for side setbacks and furthermore to formally integrate the building into its context. The final outcome is as much about the atmosphere and spaces within the house as it is about the connection of those spaces to its context and surroundings.”
“The idea to subtract a volume from the envelope of the building to create a centrally located courtyard evolved as a strategy to offer the house access to natural light and to provide the rooms with visual amenity. Insertions into the envelope in the form of the black metal shrouds establish openings that relate to both visual and natural light amenity. These moments open our domestic container envelope to reveal elements of the context beyond. A large pivot window extends the daybed into the rear yard to transform the window into a seating and reading platform.
A central courtyard is presented at the entry. Stepping into the entry alcove the clients are presented with a choice to turn left and enter into the main living quarters, to go straight and access the central courtyard or to turn right to take 5 steps up into the green carpeted retreat or 14 steps down into the lower ground kids bedroom quarters. Datum house is divided into 3 levels, ground level housing the open plan living with a linear kitchen arrangement tying together the dining and living spaces, flanked by the backyard to the south and the central courtyard to the north. Level 1 contains the retreat/study, European laundry, main bedroom and ensuite and lower ground houses 3 kids bedrooms, bathroom & WC. “