Wedge-shaped Acute House reuses materials from demolished cottage

Nic Granleese
© Nic Granleese

Designing buildings for triangular-shaped plots of land can be a challenge, especially figuring out what to do with those tricky and tight corner spaces. One could potentially turn one of these awkward corners into a parking space for a car, or turn it into an outdoor terrace, as Australian firm OOF! Architecture did with this redo of an old clapboard cottage in Melbourne.

Nic Granleese© Nic Granleese
Nic Granleese© Nic Granleese

Punnishly dubbed the Acute House (of course) the new house rises from the figurative ashes of the old cottage, which was "well-loved" in the neighbourhood but "extremely decrepit", a true "renovator's nightmare." Rather than discarding all the old materials, the architects strove to salvage and reuse as much of the old house as possible: wood boards, fencing, doorknobs and vents. The architects say:

Like fragile museum artefacts, these were carefully removed, labelled, stored and re-installed in their original location on a new mount that not only highlights their charms by contrast but allows the house to live again in a new way.

One enters through a side door, coming into the lower level which houses the kids' bedroom, and home office (not pictured). There is a guest bathroom here as well, with the toilet placed right at the corner.

Nic Granleese© Nic Granleese

Inside, the main living and kitchen spaces are open and overlap each other. Large, opposite-facing windows not only let in lots of natural light, but also permit better cross-ventilation. The ground floor and the upper floor is connected via a triangular-shaped stairway, located at one point of the triangle, covered in what appears to be artificial turf or green carpeting. Putting the stair here means precious interior space is not wasted on circulation elements like hallways or stairs.

Nic Granleese© Nic Granleese
Nic Granleese© Nic Granleese
Nic Granleese© Nic Granleese
Nic Granleese© Nic Granleese

As the 1,560-square-foot (145-square-metre) home must completely fill up the narrow plot of heritage-designated land, the architects had to find a way to incorporate outdoor spaces into the design. This is done by transforming one tip of the triangle into a sheltered, double-height outdoor area, accessible through a door, which has seating and sweeping views to the neighbourhood below. They say:

This total lack of garden is offset by the artificial internal landscape of the stairwell with lawn green carpets, hanging plants, a central aquarium of aquatic plants and fish and a sunny outlook to every room. Full height sliding doors and screens open up the main living level as a virtual verandah and the pointy, but surprisingly generous, balcony provides the ambience of a yacht in the street.

Nic Granleese© Nic Granleese
Nic Granleese© Nic Granleese
Nic Granleese© Nic Granleese
Nic Granleese© Nic Granleese

The home is topped by an attic bedroom space, which has the bed regally occupying the central, well-lit space. Behind the bed is the master bathroom, which has a large, open shower.

Nic Granleese© Nic Granleese
Nic Granleese© Nic Granleese
Nic Granleese© Nic Granleese

By building up, reusing old materials wherever possible, and cleverly incorporating an outdoor space where none previously existed, the Acute House achieves the impressive feat of balancing functionality with a modern aesthetic that nevertheless skillfully blends in with its street fellows. All this is done on a tight footprint of 516 square feet (48 square metres), and a triangular site no less, which goes to show that even awkward corners can be transformed and used in a beneficial way. More over at OOF! Architecture.

Tags: Architecture | Australia | Recycled Building Materials

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