HALF A HOUSE
This project is a described as Half A House - a suburban home split down the middle. It divides one house into two separate homes under a sculptural, folding roof. This home is shared by two families and, as a consequence, doubles density on a typical suburban block.
Half A House is a long, thin building broken up by courtyards. It reimagines a typical dual-occupancy development as a co-occupancy home filled with light, outlook and air.
The house plan is defined by a simple strategy. A shared, thickened party wall divides the homes and, in the front and rear yards, steps down to provide a looser, shared edge. Within each home, this common wall acts as a social spine filled with bookshelves and built-in storage. Off this corridor, the home’s rooms are arranged in a regular rhythm. Importantly, every room has access to garden space, and offers framed greenery, natural light and ventilation.
The design also redefines the garden conditions of a typical home. Half A House proposes a common front and back yard, imagining these as spaces for shared socialising, play and supervision. The side boundaries, meanwhile, are transformed into private gardens and spaces for retreat.
Half A House is designed for a sloping, bushland lot and, as a consequence, the building gradually steps down its site. This approach is experienced joyfully in the building’s section and interior. Subtle level changes define different spaces, while keeping the family connected across a continuous, single storey. At a human scale, the steps become studies, niches and daybeds upon which to perch, read and work.
Half A House is contemporary, and yet respects its single storey context. It sneaks density behind a well-proportioned façade that is sympathetic and unassuming. In reference to the masonry that defines Sydney’s suburbs, the house is built from thinly proportioned blockwork. The roof is supported on fanned rafters, which lift north to draw sun inside.
Half A House is a strategic and modular design proposal. This dual-occupancy design could be appropriated to suit the many sloping sites in Sydney’s middle ring, where the modules could be adjusted to step down the terrain.
Half A House doubles occupation on a typical suburban block, replacing one house with two. In doing so, it argues for considerate and gradual density in our suburbs. Rather than standing out, or towering tall, it deliberately stitches in to its context.
Half A House was formed in response to the Missing Middle design competition, run by the New South Wales Department of Planning and the New South Wales Government Architect's Office. This proposal was a runner-up in this competition.
Jury citation: “This is an elegant proposal which creates generous spaces in keeping with the scale and amenity of the suburb. These houses significantly improve on the single storey dual occupancy traditional model by breaking apart the form to improve access to light and air. It demonstrates a skilful design insertion into the existing middle ring context.”