Concrete Walls Hides Melbourne House


Austere concrete walls create maze-like paths and green spaces around this house in Melbourne, Australia, designed by local firm FGR Architects.

FGR Architects named the Courtyard residence after the large garden and the swimming pool in its center, organizing the five-bedroom house as a “superposition” of spaces that formed a buffer between the street and the minimal and quiet living spaces of the interior.

“The Courtyard residence looks like a rectangular Origami made of concrete and glass. The goal of the project is a design with a calm expression, an increased experience and a transparent function, ” explained the practice.

“The geometry of the concrete and the custom-made glass openings add intimacy and prismatic pleasure, [and] a discreet street view with implicit and superimposed volumes creates an increased sense of intrigue and wonder.”

The high monolithic concrete walls form a narrow entrance path at the front of the house, next to a Ramp leading to an underground parking lot.

The long and narrow floor plan is organized with an open-plan living room, dining room and kitchen in the center, flanked on each side by bedrooms, bathrooms and a small cozy space at the front of the house that overlooks the street through a large window.

Floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors allow the central living areas to open fully onto the outdoor courtyard, where a paved terrace with an outdoor kitchen area is protected by a large concrete roof.

“Despite its heroic elements, the house exceeds its Gallery scale and functions as a series of beautifully proportioned living spaces,” the practice described.

“The flexible interior opening and closing options with sliding glass walls create an immersive connection with the pool, courtyard and sunlight.”

“Likewise, the house can be closed if necessary to transmit bad weather and optimize thermal performance,” continued the practice.

The exposed concrete used for the structure of the house has been burnished both inside and outside, and has also been exposed in large parts of the interior walls to create a sense of continuity.

This rougher finish is complemented by wooden panels and large wooden storage spaces in the living areas, as well as a marble island in the kitchen.

“Reflection and joy are contrasted by the monumental energy of matte and polished concrete,” described the practice.

“The muted surfaces celebrate a refined brutality supported by the evolving dance of light, shadow and reflection.”

Founded in 2003 by Feras Raffoul, FGR Architects, based in Melbourne, works on architecture and interior design projects.

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