Paul Loh, University of Melbourne
David Leggett , LLDS|Power to Make
House #05 is a prototypical design for a new form of urban terrace typology. The design contributes
to current discourse of increasing urban density, especially within an Australian context. The project currently under construction is sited on a 4-metre-wide plot, formerly a carpark space for a commercial unit. Like many inner suburbia plots that are under-used in Melbourne, the site is accessible via a laneway only. However, unlike traditional terrace typology where the boundary wall leads to a linear arrangement of rooms and light-stricken interiors, House #05 deploys a thick roof structure to modulate natural light to the interior; it also functions as a roof garden, terrace and shading from the harsh summer sun.
Responding to the lack of garden space for the dwelling, the roof of the house is conceived as an elevated timber ‘plant pot’, which is raised 8 meters above the ground so that it receives natural daylight and is not overshadowed by neighbouring buildings. The void below the roof becomes the dwelling. The roof is supported by two concrete boundary walls that springs up from a 3-metre high plinth. The plinth contains the most private spaces of the dwelling: the snug, bedrooms, utilities and bathrooms.
The form of the roof is driven by multiple criteria ranging from maximum solar gain to shading of the interior through the deep timber structure. An innovative aspect of the roof is the use of laminated structural grade birch plywood to form the primary structure, a material mainly used for interior lining. Here, it will be used for the first time in Australia as a certified structural material in a domestic dwelling. The roof structure is entirely milled using a combination of flat-bed CNC machine and robotic arm.
The significance of the project is in the use of digital fabrication and robotics in Australian domestic building. The roof design modulates the interior quality of the dwelling; its geometry is scripted so it can be shaped to suit different site orientations, creating variation of the terrace form. A 1:1 prototype of the roof forms part of the exhibit. It is accompanied by a video that illustrating the proliferation of the new urban housing typology driven by multi-criteria algorithm that better utilises the unique laneway urban morphology of Melbourne. The design furthers the search for an appropriate and sustainable response to cope with the ever-increasing urban population of our city.
Paul Loh_ is a senior lecturer at the Melbourne School of Design. His research focuses on computational design and digital fabrication. He is also a partner of LLDS / Power to Make. www.llds.com.au
David Leggett_ is a registered architect in the UK and Victoria. He is a partner of LLDS / Power to Make, a new breed of architectural practice that integrates digital fabrication in the design of architecture. www.powertomake.com.au
Image: Laminated plywood roof with green roof composition around a roof light opening.