Angular Australian House Fits a Family’s Active Lifestyle

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By Emma Janzen / Published by Dwell
The stacked but flexible scheme is modern, urban, and dynamic—just like its occupants

Lively geometries serve a functional purpose at this Melbourne home designed by fmd Architects. Faced with a tight budget and space restrictions in the dense urban neighborhood, the firm devised the so-called "Bike House" as a stacked structure to minimize its footprint and maximize garden space, informing the façade arrangement. Shading devices and privacy screens establish a sheltered haven for the family.

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The house is a simple cement and steel box with elements that fold outwards to create privacy screens where needed. A perforated aluminum fence unravels from the building down toward the street. The material was selected to deter local graffiti artists from leaving their mark. Instead, a recycled brick wall serves as an appropriate canvas for street art.

Inside, spaces are designed to be flexible as the occupants’ children grow and needs shift. But what probably influenced the design the mostand earned the house it’s project namewas the family’s active lifestyle; the father is an avid cyclist, so finding creative ways to store all of those bikes was a primary influence on the layout and details, fmd director Fiona Dunn says.

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Inside, the scheme is more vivid and dynamic, with contrasting concrete and timber arranged in angular geometries that communicate activity. Recycled brick adds a gritty element to the otherwise smooth materials used in the kitchen. An oblique swath of Vic Ash timber is used for the ceiling, wrapping down into the cabinetry and mimicking the same folding movements that define the façade.

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Windows and sliding glass doors extend the dining room space into the enclosed garden and maximize natural light inside.

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The same perforated aluminum employed for the fence is used as a privacy screen in the bedroom. The holes in the screen allow for light to spill through.

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The kids’ bathroom is lined in clean white tile, which is arranged in a way that “responds to the twisting and folding externally,” Dunn says.

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In addition to the bedrooms and primary living areas, three additional “flexible zones” were incorporated to enhance the active family’s needs. This one can be used as a playroom or study. Other spaces function as a home office and lounge or extra bedroom as needed. “Every millimeter of space has a purpose, although the spaces are flexible enough to change as the family dynamics change over time,” Dunn says.

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The family built the rich wood deck in the backyard, a warm visual contrast to the cold concrete and steel building. On the south side, a carefully concealed shed houses more bicycles and tools.

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