The Tattoo house is Andrew Maynard’s latest built project. The building is a small extension to an existing 3 bedroom house in Fitzroy North, Victoria.
The client’s brief was delightfully loose; provide new living and kitchen space for a growing young family and create an open plan with plenty of natural light and high ceilings. A kitchen and a flexible work space incorporated into the extension rounded out the brief.
By balancing these desires against the various restrictions of budget, town planning requirements and available space, tactics were employed to make everything within the space perform multiple tasks, both functionally and conceptually.
The tight budget generated many of the design decisions. The form is a simple box- the strongest form an architect can achieve at a bargain basement price. From the starting point of the simple box we began to express the addition as a covered external space. The original house is very internalised. The extension was to be as open as possible so that when one crosses the threshold between the original and new structures they felt as though they were entering a covered deck rather than additional internalised space.
Generally we try to avoid having separate ideas performing different functions. We try to be economic with our concepts and make a couple of key ideas achieve multiple and varied tasks. Every element within the Tattoo House needed to perform multiple functions for maximum return- hence the kitchen bench becomes part of the stair, and the screening required by council reflects heat and glare away from the expansive windows.
Despite these challenges a double story, non-domestic scale space was achieved with a basic palette of materials.
The new architecture was approached as no more than a deck. Through bringing the external decking up to the original back wall of the home, then turning and folding it where existing structures were encountered, a covered open backyard was effectively created. The detailing of the decking timbers reveals the wrapping pattern further.
Bi-fold doors retreat to reveal a completely open corner, framed by the box while allowing uninterrupted flow between the extension and the backyard underneath, merging these spaces while retaining the edge of each. The folding doors and post-less corner make the form of the structure appear precarious. The structure playfully feels as though it defies gravity and may topple.
The stickers became a multi-purpose solution to the dual requirements of council overlooking regulations and glare reduction.Legislation which dictates a 75% opacity to second-storey windows was resolved with UV stable stickers rather than expensive and elaborate screening. The tree supergraphic creates playful and ever-changing shadows across the interior spaces and is composed of images taken in the local park.
The tattoo was conceived as a continuation of the tree graphic around the simple white box- to soften the impact of this modern addition to a resolutely 19th-century neighbourhood.
Furthermore the design was a neighbourly gesture. The household to the west has a manicured garden which is very important to the resident. A stencil of vegetation was created in-house and applied by the AMA team in a covet operation to give the neighbour an additional, though less than manicured, layer of garden.
The house isn't as "green" as most of our other projects as it was not an issue that the client was keen to pursue. The client wanted the south facade to be completely glass so that there is a very strong connection with the yard and views to the city from the 2nd level. Regardless we made the design as green as you can make glass box. A few of the key tactics were :
1. control the northern glazing. The horizontal slot windows on the northern facade bring direct winter sunlight from over the existing roof into the extension, while cutting out the high summer sun. [Note : as we are in the southern hemisphere the sun is coming from the north ("obviously" I can hear you say .... haha)].
2. thermally protect the southern facade as much as possible. A large glass southern facade is always going to loose a lot of heat in winter. Therefore we double glazed the entire facade and specified extremely efficient seals for all the doors and windows.
3. we also installed a water tank between the extg house and the extension which is connected to toilets and the garden.
4. Venting - we have small windows on the upper north west corner of the extension and very large openings on the bottom of the south east corner. This creates a surprisingly effective chimney effect to drag heat thru the voids and out of the extension. Once the garden becomes established with lush indigenous planting we hope to get a natural evaporative cooling effect to optimise the through breezes.
5. insulation - the roof and walls are clad in an extremely efficient foam product that has been rendered. This, combined with the high R value insulation within the walls and roof protect the extension from the hard morning and arvo sun in summer, while reducing heat loss in winter.
Colour in Design
Colour was used to define a narrative of volume and form. Houses are often defined by only one volume type that is low and wide. The Tattoo House provided the opportunity to create a double story, seemingly non-residential volume. To achieve this we used a bright colour to define the kitchen and mezzanine as an object which is separate to, and smaller than, the overall platonic white form of the house. The red object has been conceptually slid into the larger form to define the upper and lower levels while minimising their separation. The use of strong, bold colour has created this volumetric definition with relatively economic means.
Monument text .... some of it is good.
FIRST IMAGE - The "tattoo" was conceived as a continuation of the tree graphic around the simple white box- to soften the impact of this modern addition to a resolutely 19th-century neighbourhood. Photos were taken of trees within Edinburgh Gardens, which this facade faces. These images were then manipulated to create a graphic that achieved privacy, defined a tall, non-domestic scale object, and [arguably most importantly] allowed the design to sail trough planning as the tree canopy complied with the recode over looking legislation while leaving the undercroft open to create strong links between the internal and external spaces.
BACKGROUND (BEHIND FIRST IMAGE) - The graphic that became the sticker over the 2 storey glass wall. Rather than relying on standard, costly screens to prevent overlooking the stickers were a cheap and playful way to comply with planning legislation. We saw numerous shopfronts with large, cheap, short term graphics and advertising. We decided to bring this readily available commercial technology to a residential scenario. The graphic is vectorised and then sent to a printer who cnc cuts coloured film and applies it to a sheet of sticky-back. In a matter of just a couple of hours 2 people and a hoist rolled the sticker onto the glass and trimmed it to suit the frames. The stickers have a 5 year guarantee and a 7 year expected life span. We like their potential impermanence. Due to their cheap cost we imagine that the client will be able to use the glass facade almost as a canvas where they can peel off and replace the graphic as their mood or aesthetics desires. Much in the same way that one can apply a temporary tattoo or henna to their skin.
IMAGE 03 - The stairs are simple folded steel plate painted white. In the hierarchy of form the stairs are imagined has an deliberate after-thought. Propped against the kitchen cabinets to make the mezzanine useable. They appear as though they could be removed at anytime.
DESIGN ILLUSTRATION BELOW IMAGE 03 - An early design image presented to the client. Colour was used to define a narrative of volume and form. Houses are often defined by only one volume type that is low and wide. The Tattoo House provided the opportunity to create a double story, seemingly non-residential volume. To achieve this we used a bright colour to define the kitchen and mezzanine as an object which is separate to, and smaller than, the overall platonic white form of the house. The red object has been conceptually slid into the larger form to define the upper and lower levels while minimising their separation. The use of strong, bold colour has created this volumetric definition with relatively economic means.
IMAGE 04 - View of the kitchen. The folded steel plate stairs are tacked to the kitchen cabinets. The kitchen bench becomes the landing between the 2 flights.
IMAGE 05 - Night shot of the new family space with the mezzanine over. This is the view one gets when they move from the existing house into the new spaces. The folding doors in front and to the left slide away to reveal a post-less corner and deck beyond.
IMAGE 06 - View from the top of the stairs. Afternoon light splashes through the tree graphic onto the mezzanine and the new living space below.
IMAGE 07 - Elevation of the extension. The barren yard will be planted out with robust, water efficient indigenous grasses, bushes and trees over the coming weeks. The white graphic will become a synthetic backdrop to the new green space. The folding doors on the bottom right open to allow the internal living space to flow onto the deck.
IMAGE 09 - The folding doors disappear to make the living space and the deck become one. the junction between the internal floor and the deck has been detailed to ensure that they are on the same level. This makes couches, tables and the TV easy to pull in and out of the spaces.
IMAGE 10 - View from a near by park. AMA sprayed a stencil to the side facade. We started calling this the Tattoo as it reminded us of an arm tattoo partially concealed by a t-shirt sleeve. There is more just under the sleeve and in this case there is more just around the corner.
MIDDLE IMAGE ABOVE THE PLAN - The design was a neighbourly gesture. The household to the west has a manicured garden which is very important to the resident. A stencil of vegetation was created in-house and applied by the AMA team in a covet operation to give the neighbour an additional, though less than manicured, layer of garden.