Two Big Boys
Kew, Melbourne

A family with two teenage boys asked us to extend and reconfigure their existing home to accommodate the way they live; to better connect activities that need to be connected and separate activities that need to be separated. As the boys had grown older (and bigger!), their activities were increasingly in conflict with their parents’ activities. The main open plan living space was charged with all activities; entertaining, unwinding after football, food preparation, watching tv, folding laundry, playing table tennis, homework, etc. In contrast, spaces that needed to be connected, such as the boys’ study and the kitchen, were separated by the cellular nature of the older portion of the house.

 

In addition to needing the internal spaces to work better, our clients required more outdoor space to support sports activities and a swimming pool. This drove the project into a two-storey arrangement, which brings its own challenges; How do you connect all spaces with the outdoors? How do you keep an eye on the boys when they are playing, but stop their noise from disrupting dinner parties? These challenges were mitigated through a split level arrangement that sees the boys’ wing partly sunken into the ground and the living areas raised slightly above ground, giving both zones a strong connection to the outdoors and to the retained portion of the original house, while providing visual connections between all zones.

 

The heart of the house is the “snug”; the grand stair that bridges the old and new, the nexus between the parents’ wing, the boys’ play area, the boys’ study and the active living spaces. A sliding partition allows the boys’ area to be sealed off from the main living spaces, or connected to them via the snug when suitable. The design of the house takes a long-term view, envisaging how the family’s living patterns might change over time. The boys’ wing has the capacity to become a separate living unit with independent access from the laneway, should they follow the Gen Y trend to stay at home into their adult years.