Small house with a sunken patio by Gestalten
This small house in Melbourne, Australia was designed by Günter Gerlach of Gestalten. A tiny building site and local regulations limiting the height left only a very small building envelope. The architect responded to the challenge by digging the house into the ground, but this is no ordinary basement. Both lower level bedrooms have a wall of floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors leading out onto the adjacent patio that was also dug into the ground. The concept was based on the sunken courtyard, a below ground construction originally developed in China. With the addition of some climbing vines or other greenery to cover the far wall, it could make for a pleasant view from the bedrooms.
The upper floor living area is a rectangular hangar-like space open to the rafters. Within this open space, the architect has placed a short free-standing partition wall near the entrance door. This simple partition is easy to overlook but it plays several key roles which may not all be apparent at first glance. Most obviously it serves as an entertainment unit on the living room side, and provides a place to hang coats on the entrance side. More importantly though, it defines individual spaces within the larger space. That short wall physically sets off the entrance and subtly separates the living area, centered on the entertainment unit, from the dining area. It also has an important role in maintaining privacy for the occupants. Because of the partition, a stranger at the door has only a very limited view of the living and dining areas.
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