HOUSE WITH THE TREES
The design brief required living quarters for three married sons and their parents; along with shared generous spaces to entertain larger groups of extended family. The house therefore has a vast, airy basement apt for large gatherings. The architect has carved out a section of the garden to create a basement, which breaks away from the usual definition of a basement. If it were not for the exposed stairway stepping down from the garden to it, one would not even recognise the space as underground.
Being a corner plot with an open south-west side the house has the benefit of breeze and thus ample natural ventilation. The longer face of the plot however faces a commercial street, which poses a challenge for the privacy of a residence. This has been addressed by creating layers of privacy, using fabric to add height to the boundary wall, incorporating a suspended screen mechanism, as well as utilising the dense foliage presented by the old trees retained on the site by the architect. These trees also elevate the entry sequence to the house creating a shaded promenade of an otherwise narrow garden space, as well as creating a microclimate for the house.
The residence is sectioned in such a way that each son has their own apartment complete with a semi outdoor entrance. The architect makes a small gesture of pulling a plane away from the courtyard facade. This plane forms a suspended screen, lends an atrium like quality to the basement level of the courtyard, and upgrades an otherwise indoor corridor to a bridge. On both ends of this bridge lie the entrances to the sons’ apartments. Experientially, this celebrates the event of the siblings visiting each other by the simple gesture of placing a change of environment in the path, be it through a balcony on the first floor, or the stairway to the basement.