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This is What An 'Architectural Hug' Feels Like

Architecture

How do you make a triangle feel like a rounded embrace? While this may sound like a Japanese koan, it is actually the concept behind this innovative architecturally designed home in Kensington!

You may remember the owner and designer of today’s house, Tim Hill of Tandem Studio, as the lead designer of the Albert Park architecture project we ran last week. This time around we’re taking a look at his own family home, designed of course by Tim and Tandem.

Born out of an unconventional site plan, this unique property is home to architect Tim, Victoria English and their five-year-old son, Casper.

20th March, 2018

The dining room of Tim Hill’s Kensington home, which he modeled after a boat! The facade faces west, and is illuminated in the evenings by the setting sun. Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The exterior of the family home. ‘The house looks as though it is wrapped up by a continuous piece of ‘fabric’, and the ‘seam’ is above the front door’, explains Tim. Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

A sunken lounge sits underneath the guest bedroom pod, which is where the family hang out to watch movies or on a Sunday afternoon. Greenery enters the home through a pocket of garden framed by north-facing windows. Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

A view into the kitchen featuring a unique, rounded island bench, recycled bricks below and concrete benchtops. ‘It’s a very raw, warm and workmanlike space – albeit wrapped up in curves!’ Tim says. Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Kitchen area details, featuring distinctive, curved wood-paneled walls that run throughout the house. Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

A wide view of the sunken lounge and dining areas. Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Casper’s room at the top of the stairs, on the opposite side of the bridge to Tim and Victoria’s bedroom. ‘He comes pitter-pattering across the bridge in the morning,’ tells Tim. Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

This corner of the sunken lounge is down at the level of the garden, looking out to flowers and lush greenery. Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Tim and Victoria’s bedroom. ‘We built in the bed, which has a fixed bedhead for books, teacups, and the like.’ Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Moss-green carpet lines the upstairs bedrooms.  PPhoto – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The larger of the two bathrooms in the house, featuring built-in niches for storage. Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The guest bedroom / study, featuring more gently curving walls. Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Looking back across the bridge from the guest room. ‘There is a door, recessed and hidden in the wall panels, which creates privacy for the room when it’s occupied,’ Tim explains, ‘we use this as a large study when we don’t have guests.’ The circular ‘porthole’ windows are used to let heat out of the top of the double height central space. Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The ‘grandfather nook’ with a big afternoon lounge chair. Butterfly chair from Curious Grace. Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Lucy Feagins
Tuesday 20th March 2018

Some homes just command attention. ‘True North,‘ as named by owner and architect Tim Hill, is one of those sorts of houses. This distinctive 3-bedroom family home, on a corner block in Melbourne’s Kensington, was featured on Grand Designs Australia in June 2017, and received a commendation in the Victorian Architecture Awards that same year. But whether you’re a discerning architecture fan, or simply a local passer-by, there’s no doubting this house is something quite special.

Tim Hill, Victoria English and their son Casper have called this unique property home for the past three years. When the couple first purchased the narrow, tapering site, Tim considered it the perfect fit for his little family – ‘a little bigger than our first house, with room for a family to grow into, and parents and friends to visit’ he recalls.

The block originally featured a run down cottage, and an old stables (complete with barn door openings and a 140 year-old hayloft floor!). Tim and Victoria lived in the converted stables for the initial twelve months, while demolishing the cottage, and building their unconventional home.

The unusually shaped site presented challenges, but equally informed the innovative house design. Tim describes that ‘nothing about this block conformed to normal expectations’, which necessitated a re-design of what a family home could (and should) look like! The home welcomes visitors through a standard ‘front door’, but doesn’t conform to a conventional structure in layout of ‘front’ or ‘side.’ Rather than viewing the unusual site as a limitation, Tim views the resulting house design as a ‘an original solution to a unique challenge.’

While the site demanded a triangular form, the house itself is sinuous and curving. The exterior of the building is encased in a skin of pleated folded metal; which Tim imagines as like being ‘wrapped in a piece of cloth.’ This idea of an architectural ‘hug’ is echoed in the interiors, where natural finishes, curved timber lining and plywood panels conjure a feeling of warmth. For the owner, ‘the overriding feeling is being embraced by the rounded, organic shapes – people remark on the shapes and the sense of warmth and welcome.’

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