Concrete is a heavy material that usually goes hand in hand with a tight, hard, dark atmosphere and formal language. In Hawthorn House, however, the opposite was achieved, thanks to the ingenious design of Edition Office, a renowned Melbourne architecture studio.
A concrete structure that still looks light and spacious, it seems a contradiction, yet the team of architects at Edition Office managed to realise this in a residence in Hawthorn, a suburb of Melbourne. In spite of the austere formal language, they created a cosy home that is a haven for a growing family to escape from the hustle and bustle of life. Here the residents get the feeling of being ‘elsewhere' for a while, the architects explain.
A wonderful interaction between architecture and user
Surrounded by a concrete structure, Hawthorn House has a very unique appearance. ‘The arched concrete shrouds evolved as a method of structurally supporting the house with its own skin; designed to be understood as protective cloak rather than as signifiers of support. These shrouds provide the framework for how the spaces within the home relate to each other and to the external environment,’ we hear at Edition Office. Thanks to the support provided by the concrete structure, the entire ground floor is surrounded by ceiling-high windows, allowing plenty of light to enter while still providing sufficient privacy in the living spaces. The bedrooms and bathrooms on the first floor are in turn more closed off from the outside environment, but here too residents get an enormous sense of light and spaciousness. The furniture is placed away from the wall and is directed towards private patios so from the bed or bath you have a view of the green plants and the blue sky. It is clear everywhere that the architecture will have a positive impact on the lives of the residents. Not to mention the technical interventions that determine the ecological and sustainable character of the house.
A heavy material that still generates light and spaciousness
According to the architects, the choice for a neutral and restrained palette of materials also enhances the experimental character of Hawthorn House. Moreover, materials such as brass, wood and concrete will acquire a beautiful patina by coming into contact with the human body and become even more beautiful over the years. A wonderful interaction between architecture and user, in which both parties have a positive effect on each other. Photographer: Ben Hosking