St Kilda West
Our task in designing this house was to accommodate a family on a sloping site – long and relatively narrow and incorporating an existing Victorian house. We also needed to ensure that the highly serviced building minimised energy use through passive solar design.
Whilst the accommodation requirements and the shape, orientation and terrain of the site largely determined the formal arrangement of the house, the articulation of the fabric and the detail design were generated from both the passive solar methods employed and more significantly, our Client’s request that the architecture reflect their extensive time living in various parts of Asia.
We were conscious of avoiding a literal or thematic depiction of ‘Asian’ architecture, so the connections are subltle and characterised by a minimal palette of colour, texture and form and an attempt to reference the qualitative aspects of Asian architecture rather than obvious visual representations.
That the house functions effectively for a family with frequent guests and supports both family life and individual privacy is a satisfying outcome for us. The significant achievement however, is the unexpected narrative that the house offers once through the front door. There is a sense of space unfolding and the suggestion of more at every turn. There is also a quietness in this house, a stillness and sense of retreat from the city – perhaps the most essential link to Asia.
Often in alterations and additions projects the majority of our work takes place out of view from the public realm. Even though our approach encompasses the whole site both intellectually and physically, the impact over the title boundary is subtle or suggestive rather than definitive. When presented with this site, our initial reaction was that urban design on and off the site would define our approach to the architecture and vice versa.
Many of our well established architectural pre-occupations are evident in this house; re-programming entry to help separate public and private zones, modulating light, volume and aspect to provide multiple experiences, defining served and servant space to manage and conceal functional elements of the house, designing for the entire site to add richness and utility to the garden and other outdoor spaces. Formally, the architecture is reduced to platonic volume, or emblematic and suggestive forms which serve the aesthetic and functional requirements of the interiors. Materials are chosen for texture, durability to support the formal expression and to delight our own aesthetic sensibilities.
Most interesting about this house is it’s function as a component of urban design. The highly exposed site, bound by street, lane and park on three sides, uses a mutually supportive synthesis of architecture and urban design to do a lot of work. The austere and suggestive forms which face park and lane provide a substantial presence, appropriate in scale and quality for their role in the urban realm. Simultaneously, these forms provide privacy to the interior which can be modulated at key points on the ground level from opaque to transparent. More obliquely and poetically, other habitations on the site are signalled by the presence of a schematised chimney which denotes a second level (literally and figuratively) of engagement with the urban realm. Finally, a spectacular eucalypt at the rear of the site is a gift to the project – architectural form and program nestles under its generous canopy. The building might outlast the tree, but it’s legacy will remain and hopefully suggest its successor.
This small house at Merricks Beach was designed as a family weekender which would also be available for short term rental. It needed to be economical to build and tough enough for the knocks of a rental market. The site is two blocks from the beach and has no views, it is relatively flat and was found in a completely cleared state.
The requirement was for a modest house and so rooms and space were given close consideration however what enlivens the program of the house is the investigation of how one might live differently in a weekender. Some ideas that influenced that architecture were that no-one needed to ‘own’ a bedroom and that the habitation context would be leisure rather than work/school. More specifically, storage requirements are completely different and the house needed to respond to a pattern of arrive and unpack, re-pack & leave. The weekender is a highly social space, you spend more time with others and having guests to stay is common and so the house had to be a place to enjoy one other.
The plan uses a courtyard typology to ensure privacy and maximise access to northern orientation. The plan also draws out a number of ‘in-between’ spaces. The bunk room on the north edge of the courtyard is open-ended and tucks the large sleeping platforms into an alcove. This space feels dark and private and can become a second living room when the house swells with people. Within this space there are different places to be and in the absence of doors light forms the threshold.
On the Mornington Peninsula the coastal weekender is not just a summer dream, in winter the hearth is central to the house. A slow combustion fireplace located between the kitchen and living room defines another ‘in-between’ space, somewhere to pull up a chair, chat or read in the colder months. In summer this space dissolves into the open corner of the central deck. A slight fall across the site suggests gentle changes in the internal topography of the house. At the lowest point, the living pit sits below the central timber deck. The soft floor provides a spot to be low and look out and up over the skillion roof to the surrounding tree canopies. The pit edge is another in-between place, a place to sit but also wide enough for an afternoon nap. The edge curves to become the hearth for the fire.
A simple architectural language using masonry, concrete and timber was developed for this house. The white painted brickwork to both interior and exterior walls is arranged in planes and is never punctured by windows. There are two moments where a circle has been left, telling the story of the recycled red bricks that the house is made from. The structural concrete slab, rough sawn timber cladding and concrete block screen wall have been expressed with similar simplicity. The house feels raw and tough, refinement is attained through composition, texture, volume, light and program.
2013 Houses Awards
Winner: New House under 200 sq.m
2013 Victorian Architecture Award: Residential New
"We’re all familiar with the advantages of open plan living, where “a one for all and all for one” approach to family activities from cooking to television watching is meant to strengthen familial bonds. But the reality of having the dishwasher running at the same time as the television can be noisy and a source of irritation for some. In their extension of a 1938 clinker brick home in Hampton, Australia, Kennedy Nolan avoided the pitfalls of a one room open plan extension by adding a central corridor to the back of the house with a study/guest bedroom on one end and a living room at the other. Light, airy, and open, the visual connections between the spaces remain but at the same time they feel distinctly separate".
Photography by Derek Swalwell
High density multiple residential buildings can be a difficult architectural proposition – to be viable they must be driven by yield outcomes whilst negotiating the constraints of planning schemes and resistance to and anxiety about change. Another complication is that the principally visible facades are often sited in heritage streets.
This project in Fitzroy is conventional in most respects but investigates some ways to articulate a building such that it deals with some of the pitfalls of the apartment block. The building uses conventional and economic construction methods – in this case pre-cast panels. The key move is to arrange exposed aggregate pre-cast panels cast in shapes which have an abstract reference to planes of Victorian masonry. Because the panel arrangement obscures the legibility of the floor levels, the façade is effectively de-scaled. The effect is reinforced by suspending the panels slightly apart from one another and this in conjunction with the exposed aggregate finish, allows the viewer a new way of seeing pre-cast.
The result is façades which read as compositions of textured abstract form, resonant of the context, but not immediately legible, obscuring the individual dwellings. Philosophically this is a similar approach to the Mansion Block as a way of dealing with the problems of scale that apartment buildings present.
Planning Permit approved October 2010
Imagery by FloodSlicer
This project involved dealing with a low quality Edwardian house requiring extensive additional accommodation. The domestic program is conventional and the planning strategy employed uses a courtyard typology to impose hierarchy and order on a typically contingent Edwardian arrangement. The project attains some distinction through its investigation of forms and materials which draw on a re-framed Edwardian aesthetic.
The project investigates the themes of Arts and Crafts design which can be related to the Edwardian house and also provide a parti for new forms which sit adjacent. The forms accommodating the expanded program are generated by the limitations of siting and take in to account orientation and views on and off the site. Within these constraints, the architecture aims to resonate with the abstractions of domestic form generated by Voysey and Mackintosh and the building fabric is constructed utilising texture and detail in the tradition of both the Arts and Craft movement and Brutalism – movements which present a nexus of modernism and humanism.
"Kennedy Nolan’s work here shows a method for the rejuvenation of established suburbs that respects previous eras and remembers the personal histories embedded in individual houses, but does not seek to memorialize what has gone before. This Edwardian has been reinterpreted, not reiterated. Retailers of replica door knockers and the myriad other mass-market accoutrements of “heritage renovation” may well be disgruntled, but the rest of us should rejoice. After all, who would want to be ordinary when they can be extraordinary?"
Photography by Derek Swalwell
"By making each of the elements work hard, the architects have crafted a series of simple, efficient spaces perfectly tailored to a family with young children. The neat lines of the floor plan belie the thoughtful and refined approach that allows it to so effortlessly meet the family’s brief. Spaces are proportioned for activity; materials were chosen for endurance"Emma Cross
"Kennedy Nolan’s reworking of this previously renovated house (late Edwardian and then 80s) respects its site and context with an elegantly united architectural solution to the classic ‘alts ‘n’ adds’ challenge, embraces it through multi-level and multi-directional connection with the landscape, filters it through carefully placed screening elements and generates a singular architectural gesture out of a tripartite group of potentially unengaged elements...
...These architects have reduced the previous anomalies, and introduced strong guiding principles for the building that are robust enough to ensure that the line between new and old is difficult to identify. They answer the question of how to contribute well to the suburbs by doing precisely what Boyd expected of them – in order to densify the suburbs, you must make better use of the space, efficiently and more pleasurably".
Photography by Derek Swalwell
Stockbroker Tudor is a term with pejorative beginnings. It is a domestic architectural style which has been reviled for being pompous and inauthentic however it has some genuine links to the Arts and Crafts - a design movement of ongoing interest to Kennedy Nolan.
The Arts and Crafts movement fascinates us because of the complexities contained in it’s incipient Modernism parallel to a pre-occupation with the crafts of making. During the twentieth century, the next time that Modernism became preoccupied with craft and making was Brutalism - also a movement of ongoing interest to this practice.
The house investigates a reconciliation of high Modernism and the Tudor revival elements of the Arts and Crafts movement - on first glance seemingly incompatible. The resulting new building fabric has the clarity of functionalist planning and flexibility afforded by modern technology,also the relevance of contemporary aesthetics such as de-limited horizontal space and breaking down of interior/exterior thresholds.
The detail and resolution of
the architecture acknowledges the reality of domestic construction– that it is
hand-made - and expresses this through ostensible elements of carpentry,
metalwork, tiling and glazing and through colours and forms which touch on the
memory of ecclesiastical and pre-Raphaelite preoccupations of Arts and Crafts
Photography by Derek Swalwell
On a site accommodating a non-descript factory the Clients’ brief was for a best fit multiple residential building with realisable commercial value. The existing factory building remains as a memory of the light industrial history of this corner site in Fitzroy. The new building clearly expresses a change of use for its site and represents the evolution of an inner city suburb. The new form that grows from this ground floor masonry plinth is lightweight yet muscular in its form, blank in daylight becoming delicate and transparent in the night.
The three dwellings are contained within a collection of forms which are enigmatic. This building challenges the viewer to look up and decipher the meaning and inner workings behind the silent, sober forms. There is a trajectory of the building from day into night. Blank and inscrutable by day, at night it transforms into a series of lanterns equally mysterious but also public spirited in their illumination.
This project is part of a series of buildings
from this practice which attempt to re-interpret Brutalism in architecture,
seeking to capture the strength and drama of brutalist form and emphasise the
texture and luxury of blank surfaces, the possibilities of hand-crafted
Photography by Derek Swalwell
This project involves the re-organisation and interior design of a mid-twentieth century courtyard house in Bayside Melbourne. The existing house provided an inspiring departure point for a design which draws on the late modernist houses of California. The aim was to exploit the transparency through the house and site afforded by the courtyard plan, to amplify the close relationship of interior and exterior space and to emphasise a sense of calm and refuge by a restricted neutral palette. Flexibility in the plan is afforded by large cavity sliding doors, sometimes faced in mirror to confuse the enfilade of the plan. The austerity of the minimalist form and expression is countered by the extensive use of American Oak for warmth and travertine for texture.
The site is on a corner in a leafy street. The area is quiet and would not feel out of place in a country town. The longest boundary faces north and abuts a generous grass nature strip.
Typically the original timber Edwardian house was located towards the corner of the site. Out-buildings were removed and the new work sought to address privileged orientation and heighten the entry sequence.
The original house primarily accommodates the family’s own space; call it private. The new building is where day to day life is played out between kitchen and living. This public zone establishes a direct connection to the north lawn.
The roughcast rendered garden wall sits somewhere between landscape, sculpture and building. It is both garden edge and entry wall.
Within the architecture there is a focus on texture. White paint reduces this palette of timber, steel, brickwork and roughcast render to texture alone. New and old are unified by this approach.
There is nothing overly complex going on here, although it is a highly organised arrangement that allows everything to be in its place. This house is designed to be a beautiful backdrop for family life.
Conceptually, this is a house built within a picturesque ruin, the formal expression is composed of fragments of masonry which recall industrial uses and which obscure conventional domestic tropes. Our architectural approach illustrates the trajectory of the site – it is an adaptive re-use which clarifies and intensifies the perception of its change of use.
The somewhat conventional program is expressed as a complex of forms and elements in a garden and privileges the experience of the user. Particular attention is paid to the arrangement of space in a spiralling organisation. Specifically this is to add richness and complexity to the singular volume, to unfold internal and external space in a controlled narrative and to expand the experience of vertical circulation theatrically – heightening anticipation as each new space and volume appears. The climax is reached in the principal living area on the top floor where the views then expand out to the distance.
Kew II House
This project explores the crafts of building in the context of works to a so called ‘English style’ arts and crafts house. Programatically the changes to the house involve internal re-organisation to add scale and dignity to the interiors and engage them directly with the garden.
Spatially and programmatically we considered how the section could be manipulated to engage the interior of the house with the garden and also re-inforce the distinctions between zones, amplifying the gradations of privacy.
Because the footprint of the house was not significantly augmented, our architectural motivation was to explore the ways that arts and crafts methods and aesthetics could be deployed to re-address the house with a ‘garden front’. Specifically this involved harnessing the skills of the Tradesmen to create something poetic – looking at ways that we could utilise steel fabrication, carpentry, brickwork, cabinet making and stonework to make something expressive and evocative, something beautiful and useful.
Kennedy Nolan in collaboration with Sam Cox Landscape
2016 Houses Awards: Winner - Outdoor
A sequence of small and robust interventions connects house to garden, to river, allowing the occupant to reconnect to the place in a way that has long been lost.
A bushland is re-created in a place that is characteristically a cottage garden - one can wander, bathe, warm by the fire and float above the river. These interventions are more primal than manicured; they speak of permanence and create a ritualistic existence in a new yet old world, on the doorstep to a big city.
The complete rehabilitation of the site immerses one into a place that is increasing rarely experienced, a place that typically requires effort to visit. Here, however, it becomes part of one's everyday existence and is characterized by exactness, restraint and maturity.
There are lessons in this project that are rarely practiced. These lessons, if more readily implemented, would change the nature of our relationship to and appreciation of place.
2016 Houses Awards: Winner - Sustainability
Great effort and restraint has been practiced in this outdoor environment, from the complete regeneration and rehabilitation of a bushland setting with endemic species to the experimental bio-pool that required extensive research and commitment.
A microclimate is created through a sensitive hand, demonstrating that a small outdoor project can impact significantly on the natural environment. This project is an exemplar for all the community - it advocates an approach to design and the environment that is accessible and does not rely on high technology, and it embraces an attitude that is distinctly Australian. With a sensitive hand and mind we can have our piece of nature, preserve it and share it with others.
The riverbanks have been stabilized and the fauna returned to a familiar and safe environment. The garden is watered naturally when it rains and the pool is serviced by solar tubing and power offset by photovoltaic cells.
This is a rare project that generously offers an authentic approach to celebrating and preserving our natural ecosystem. It achieves this to the benefit of surrounding properties that now enjoy a small fragment of the Australian bush.