Before construction could begin on a new build outside central Melbourne, Paul Porjazoski faced a distinctly suburban problem: uniformity. As the co-director of Bent Architecture, a firm based in the same Australian city, he was tasked with constructing a contemporary, two-story home on a small lot surrounded by a number of post-war properties set on single levels. Porjazoski's new house on the block would automatically stand out from the established houses, but he wanted to make sure it would still retain some of the classic characteristics of the setting. So, he decided to emulate the area’s predominant feature (the pitched roof) as the most eye-catching detail in his modern design—but with a twist.
In Porjazoski's version, metal angles pivot above what appears to be a single-level house from the street, but actually stretches just high enough to conceal two bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs. "The pitched-roof form is immediately recognizable as a distorted version of the neighboring roofs," he notes. The roof alone, which Porjazoski refers to as "playful," surely gives the address an unlikely edge over the rest of its unknowing competitors. But, he didn't stop there. Porjazoski opted to give its jet-black exterior contrasting vertical stripes of timber battens, which foil the simple weatherboard sidings of the nearby properties. "The result is a house that's simultaneously referential and divergent from the prevailing street character," Porjazoski says.
The rest of the home is perhaps just as rebellious as its front, and yet, such a bold first impression somehow makes it feel calmer. Another priority of the project was to preserve as much of the outdoor space as possible, since the homeowners are avid gardeners who requested an area to work outside. Porjazoski created an enclosed courtyard in the center of the property for this purpose, but it also acts as another one of his clever solutions. The courtyard brings natural light into the living spaces on the ground floor and provides ventilation throughout.
Once inside, the mood shifts. Porjazoski wanted to capitalize on the amount of natural light afforded to the interiors with the addition of a courtyard, so the common areas take on an airy quality. A minimalist white palette intertwines them, which also helps keep a fair amount of attention on the open-air options. "The living area is straddled by both the courtyard and rear yard, creating continuous physical and visual links between internal and external spaces," Porjazoski says. "It feels more like a garden pavilion than a typical living room."
The rest of the nearly 2,000-square-foot design remains consistent with Porjazoski's subtle creativity. A study on the opposite end of the courtyard acts as a quiet workspace where the owners can keep watch over the activities of their young child. And in the three bedrooms, large windows and straightforward details mirror those found in the more public areas of the home. "We were determined to make sure the internal experience of the space would not be compromised by the traditional construction techniques employed to build the project," Porjazoski says. In the end, he states, the home was made to look and feel "simultaneously familiar and surprising."