The Decontra Residence, located in Melbourne Australia and designed by Fitt De Felice is long and lean in the front, wide and open in the back.
From the architects:
A classic courtyard house where monolithic architectural forms are carefully composed and occasionally sliced open to filter the sun, allowing it in and screening it out variously throughout the day and throughout the seasons.
The site for this four bedroom family home is a north facing acre allotment with an exposed corner highly visible from the street. A simple composition of bold architectural forms is embedded into the natural landscape, establishing a high degree of privacy whilst simultaneously allowing a generosity of sun penetration and natural ventilation throughout the building. The architecture harnesses the sun and the wind, enveloping itself around a private courtyard that is the heart of the home.
Various wings stand sentinel around the sunny central court. The bedroom wing forms the rear bank of the courtyard, allowing each bedroom to enjoy the sunlight. Kid’s bedrooms are filled with soft light from the south, while the master bedroom opens its shaded north face onto the courtyard – providing an ideal location for surveillance of the young family at play. A second rammed earth and timber wing sits protectively between the courtyard and the street, housing the more evening-focused rumpus room and bar. A western highlight window brings a dramatic slash of light into this space throughout the day. With the generous living space flanking the courtyard to the east, and the pool deck to the west, the house becomes an abundant place for playing and entertaining for this large extended family. A highlight window sliced through the east-facing rammed earth wall provides abundant natural light which dramatically animates the living space during daytime occupation. This main living area is sheltered beneath a monumental 6 meter deep western eave onto the courtyard – straddling the length of the home and knitting the rammed earth wings together.
This is an essentially classic and timeless composition, expressive of its construction and celebratory in its purpose. Architecturally it is a raw, earthy, contemporary building that is responsive to climate, site and brief. A custom coloured rammed earth in a light travertine tone is the primary construction material, and is the foundation for the design. The high thermal mass of these walls provide a passive method of naturally moderating the internal temperature of the building – an essential and responsible ingredient. The rawness and brutality of the rammed earth is teamed with the warm richness and strength of grey iron bark timber, and dry stacked Hornsfeld brown stone, forming several design anchors across the site such as the living room fireplace and the driveway retaining wall.
Photos by Jaime Diaz-Berrio.