Conceptual Framework The original site included the first church in the Mundaring region from 1903 (St Andrew’s Anglican Church) and gazebo (the 1980’s). Our clients purchased the church and site with the intent of adding a new residence. The design evolved as a constellation of three elements; church, house, and gazebo. The three elements lock together without physically touching each other. Each becomes an essential piece of the puzzle. The original church is the primary context that helps to generate and influence the architecture of the new house. The gazebo, whilst not considered to be of significant aesthetic value, now forms and essential outdoor entertaining space that defines the south-west corner locking all three elements together.
The house emerges out of the ground as a long-refined bar, hugging the south boundary to then open the site and maintain the view from the road to the church. The definition of the south boundary focuses attention to the church with a new sense of intensity allowing the public to maintain visual and emotional contact with the church. The house materiality is derived from the church but introduced in unexpected ways. The roof sheeting becomes the main material with lower level brickwork anchoring the house to the lower site. A long veranda on the north side animates the site and connects house, church, and gazebo. It echoes the form of the church porch (added in 1987) but never touches it. A walk along the veranda reveals the church with abstracted views through grey polycarbonate and recycled jarrah timber battens (the slick and the hairy).
A path of recycled brick meanders through the site from the street to the point where all three elements meet. The church shifts from being the focus on an approach to an equal ‘weight’ in the composition. There is no front door, entry is deliberately created from the veranda that reveals the immediate context and distant context. This separation of elements allows the church to be used independently from the house with the opportunity to once more host public events. In contrast to the informality of the walk through the native garden, the house is designed with a sequence of axis derived from the micro axis of the church. The veranda panels frame the axis, extruding interior space, creating depth and focusing the mature trees and native garden whilst providing sun protection and privacy.
When first approached by the owners to build a house for less than $400,000 inc gst ($1600m2) we noted this could only be achieved if they trusted us to make cost decisions and worked with one particular builder. Openly minded workshops with the structural engineer and builder resulted in the impossible being possible. Roof lights and PV cells provide power and natural lighting to both the church and house. Water is retained on site to form part of a natural stream that begins uphill. The church is once more restored to be a valuable asset to the street and community with a presence far greater than when originally built.
Sustainable Architecture This project is unique in the approach to bonding environmental and social sustainability in a holistic manner that is bigger than the site itself. The design respects the church creating a stronger relationship with the public allowing the public to once more visit. The strengthened presence allows passing community members to view and reflect on past associations with the church and relive former memories. The design acknowledges the critical importance of a public building that is now in private ownership. An on-site stream is developed as part of a larger network of water bodies that flow through the site. This stream controls excessive stormwater, feeding native plants and attracting native birds. PV cells provide power for the church and house. New roof lights provide natural light and heat gain and a spiritual and emotional link to the sky. The economy of structure and minimal material (and spatial) waste is actively pursued.
Lighting This project explores an experiential economy of lighting both during the day and at night. It brings importance to the role and experience of light in an honest and perhaps spiritual manner. It acknowledges the role of the former church with dignity and respect. Concealed strip lighting wash walls revealing their texture and ruggedness, the hand-crafted nature is enthusiastically exposed. New lights are carefully controlled with power, switches, and lamp connected to one clear and precise copper tube. Handmade plywood fittings hold atmospheric carbon battens appearing as ceremonial but subtle objects. Natural light is filtered and abstracted through the juxtaposition of recycled Jarrah battens and grey Polycarbonate sheeting, a contrast of the natural and the synthetic. New roof lights provide natural light and heat gain to the church and main bedroom and a spiritual link and emotional link to the sky. 1970’s hanging lights are re-used in an undiscriminating manner.