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.’