A House for all Seasons

Cremorne VIC
Poly Studio
Black & White Panama

A House for all Seasons: an unconventional family home

Located within a heritage streetscape in Melbourne's inner city, this project designed by Polystudio, implements genius spatial planning to create a generous amenity within a compact footprint. Built according to the Passive House standard (one of the most rigorous efficiency standards in the world) this home is also revolutionary in its sustainable credentials.

The ultra contemporary design of the House for all Seasons responds to the heritage  streetscape of the next buildings.  Since the beginning, the need to articulate the scale of the house to the narrow terrace houses on the street was clear. Only this would have ensured the house to feel calibrated to the grain, scale and materiality of neighbourhood dwellings, despite being a much larger block of land.


The architects' point of view

Polystudio director Daniel Wolkenberg says, 'to further minimise the appearance of the wide block, we articulated the home into two related yet distinct elements-one brickwork, and the other steel cladding.'

For the façade, Polystudio used Black&White brick in Panama, which gave a soft yet striking finish to the home's exterior. For the predominant material of the façade, they wanted a contemporary brick that would work harmoniously with the contemporary style of the interiors and our Black&White brick seamlessly responded to this need.

Polystudio designed A House for all Seasons to reflect the evolving needs of a young family, who wanted a flexible home that could go hand in hand with their changing needs and preferences. The design of the house is flexible and layered, and incorporates devices such as partition curtains and permeable screening, to create intimate spaces that also flow into adjoining spaces.


A visually-striking contrast

From the street, the ground floor clad in white mansory, creates a striking contrast with the first floor, covered in dark Rio brick. While the white ground floor exudes a sleek, modern sensibility, the use of bricks on the first floor situates the building in its traditional residential context. The central courtyard also features white walls on the ground level with dark bricks above, adding depth and character to the outdoor living space. Elsewhere on the property, contrast is enhanced through the use of hardwood timber decking (in the backyard) and natural stone (for the boundary walls).

'In designing the space to be flexible, we really had to think about how the spaces will be used over time', says Daniel. "It was important for us to create well-sized spaces where every member of the family can happily co-exist.

This included a clear separation between the parents and children so everyone could maintain their personal space, with multi-purpose common areas where the family can overlap with each other at different times of the day, be it for study, work or leisure". The interiors of the home are characterised by polished concrete floors, blackbutt plywood detailing and a mix of feature colours, which contributes to a warm and nurturing interior. Space is at a surplus in this family home, particularly within the common living and dining rooms, giving the family space to breathe, play and entertain. Whilst minimal in its furnishings, the eclectic and playful nature of the décor and furniture adds an element of surprise to every corner of the house.


Daniel and his team drew on Le Corbusier's Polychromy colour system for this project, which consists in a harmonious combination of bright, complementary colours. "Colour was integral to creating warmth and dynamism in the home in order to avoid it feeling too austere," Daniel says, "Whether its bright orange bar stools in the kitchen, Moroccan inspired rugs in the living rooms or a bright screen sliding door welcoming you into a bedroom, the design is truly whimsical and perfectly suited to a growing and energetic family." In accordance with the home's ethos of accommodating living patterns both now and into the future, the House for all Seasons features sustainable principles that have been incorporated into the design, layout and living capabilities of the home.

The team at Polystudio incorporated both Passive House and passive solar design principles into the home, to minimise the need for mechanical heating and cooling. Unlike conventional homes, A House for all Seasons is so well insulated and airtight that its internal environment is largely independent from external temperatures, keeping the home warm in winter and cool in summer, as its name implies. With sustainability front of mind, the home also uses durable materials, a reduction in water use and drought-tolerant native and edible vegetation.