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Bigger Isn’t Better In This Newcastle Home

Architecture

This Newcastle home may appear large in photos, but that’s all due to the clever design by Curious Practice.

Occupying a mere 55 square metre footprint, the new house plays with volume and height to maximise space for a young family. 

By using utilitarian materials (unpainted fibre-cement sheet, galvanised steel, concrete and others!) planting extensive garden areas, and engaging with the street, the project achieves its primary goal of creating a comfortable family home on a small footprint, whilst sitting harmoniously in its context.

25th January, 2021

Durham Road by Curious Practice. Photo – Katherine Lu. Styling – Harriet Farrah of Koskela 

The house in Lambton, Newcastle replaces a large home on site, which was unmaintainable due to extensive unmapped mine workings and land subsidence. Photo – Katherine Lu. Styling – Harriet Farrah of Koskela 

The material palette features unpainted fibre-cement sheets, galvanised steel sheets, chain link fencing, concrete, unpainted laminated veneer lumber, and timber battens. Photo – Katherine Lu. Styling – Harriet Farrah of Koskela 

The small 55 square footprint, developed to maximise landscaped areas, promotes and maintains the green and leafy suburb whilst configuring family living to an intimate scale.  Photo – Katherine Lu. Styling – Harriet Farrah of Koskela 

Planning and robustness of materials were keen considerations given the modest project budget. Photo – Katherine Lu. Styling – Harriet Farrah of Koskela 

A seat at garden level seeks to actively engage with passersby. Artwork on far left is ‘Timber Beach’ by Michelle Tear. Photo – Katherine Lu. Styling – Harriet Farrah of Koskela 

Generous windows look out to currently establishing landscaping. Photo – Katherine Lu. Styling – Harriet Farrah of Koskela 

The four-bedroom house belongs to a family of five. Photo – Katherine Lu. Styling – Harriet Farrah of Koskela 

The architect intends for the home’s outdoor areas to become the eventual focal point, supporting the project’s primary objective of ‘promoting and maintaining the green leafy suburb.’ Photo – Katherine Lu. Styling – Harriet Farrah of Koskela 

A simple study nook. Photo – Katherine Lu. Styling – Harriet Farrah of Koskela 

A raked ply ceiling over the upper floor envelops and connects each member of the family. Photo – Katherine Lu. Styling – Harriet Farrah of Koskela 

Dappled light steams in through the tall trees above the home. Photo – Katherine Lu. Styling – Harriet Farrah of Koskela 

Contemporary, simple bathroom interiors. Photo – Katherine Lu. Styling – Harriet Farrah of Koskela 

The home is located on a corner site. Photo – Katherine Lu. Styling – Harriet Farrah of Koskela 

The Newcastle home may appear large, but that’s all due to the clever design of Curious Practice.Photo – Katherine Lu. Styling – Harriet Farrah of Koskela 

The house plays with volume and height to maximise space. Photo – Katherine Lu. Styling – Harriet Farrah of Koskela 

Amelia Barnes
Monday 25th January 2021

‘With a modest budget, expanding the living areas through large openings onto landscape and outdoor rooms was prioritised’ – Greg Lee, Curious Practice.

The clients of this Lambton, Newcastle, project originally engaged Curious Practice to design a small renovation only. However, upon discovering extensive unmapped mine workings and land subsidence beneath the site, a complete rebuild was required. 

Given a new house was not initially on the cards, the client’s budget was modest, calling for a particularly inventive response from Curious Practice. While the previous house consumed the majority of the site, the practice took the opportunity to design something smaller, and more contextual.

‘The discovery of subsidence and subsequent opportunity for a new house allowed us to develop this scheme and maximise garden areas with much more rigour,’ says project architect Greg Lee. ‘With a modest budget, expanding the living areas through large openings onto landscape and outdoor “rooms” was prioritised, and areas such as garages were seen as superfluous.’ 

The architect intends for these outdoor areas designs by Tallowood Landscapes to eventually become the focal point of the home, supporting the project’s objective of maintaining the green leafy suburb. ‘As they establish over time, the gardens will reveal hidden paths, and are designed for verdant consumption of the building, reducing its presence in the green suburb,’ says Greg.

The home’s relatively humble material palette includes unpainted fibre-cement sheets, galvanised steel sheets, chain link fencing, concrete, unpainted laminated veneer lumber, and timber battens. ‘Our approach to materiality was to be robust, honest and modest, but to create a visual whole and subdue the architecture against the vibrancy of the growing landscape,’ explains Greg.  

These varying textures enhance the way sunlight hits each surface, particularly the dappled light that streams in through tall trees above. Birch ply joinery and wall lining extend this same approach internally. ‘The birch ply surfaces were developed to further blur the distinction between wall and joinery, abstracting the spaces’ volumes,’ says Greg.

Covering just a 55 square metre footprint, this project proves less is truly more! 

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