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Melbourne-based architecture and design firm Figr. was assigned to design a family home on a long, narrow strip of land wedged between California bungalows. The trick was to create a modern dwelling with ample sunlight, ventilation, and views to the grassy outdoors while still blending in with the homely, suburban backdrop.

Datum House by Figr.

Datum House by Figr.

The site was sloping heavily, with the front on a much lower elevation than the back end, providing the designers at Figr. a unique opportunity to do something drastic. While intending to keep the building’s height levelled with the surrounding single-storeyed houses, the designers decided to cut deeper into the ground on the lower end to slide in another volume. As a result, the Datum House is a semi double-storeyed dwelling with a two-storeyed front and single-storeyed back – bearing a striking resemblance to Robyn Boyd’s Walsh House in South Yarra.

The exterior is a playful imitation of its surrounds, featuring a gabled roof and white weatherboard cladding,  complete with a tongue-in-cheek white picket fence. White walls and wooden elements characterise the beautiful interior. Warm timber tones are employed to contrast with the starkness of white walls and marble furniture. Another bold move lies in the use of green i.e. green laundry and green carpet. These unexpected elements give the interior exciting accents, while the abundance of pot plants inside help mediate the contrast.

Datum House by Figr.

Datum House by Figr. Datum House by Figr. Datum House by Figr.

You’d think a long, linear structure like this would encounter issues regarding airflow, sunlight, and outdoor views. However, the Datum House resolves that in one simple gesture – a central courtyard that breaks up the long structure into two volumes, which can be easily accommodated.

Through the courtyard, sunlight and breezes are able to enter the premises. A dining room and living quarters are strategically located around it, with windows and screen walls letting in light and providing views of the lush courtyard. More windows and skylights are implemented to max out sunlight access, illuminating the entirety of the building.Datum House by Figr.

Datum House by Figr.

Datum House is an example of clever design responding fantastically to site context. The design makes the most of the elevation change to create more space and an internal courtyard to disperse airflow and sunlight to all parts of the building. The result is a beautiful, cozy home that integrates smoothly into its neighbourhood.

Check out figr.com.au for more information. Photography by Tom Blachford.