South Melbourne House

  • Type Residential
  • Client Private
  • Location Melbourne
  • Description Stripping back design-isms
  • Construction 2015
  • Photography Trevor Mein
  • Design Powell & Glenn Pty Ltd
  • Architect Ed Glenn

The designers’ first aim seems to have been that of geometric and material simplicity. This is partly a response to a tiny site, and partly a response to the eclectic South Melbourne neighbourhood.

Into this setting, the house presents a flattened façade that is austere to the point of near-blankness, resolving deeper on the block into a primary volume – a cube – as one glimpses its northern flank over the fence. In time-honored fashion, apart from some window shutters, the façade is umarred by any feature at all.

High walls prohibit views into this private outdoor space, while looking outwards over the walls allows distant views of the upper levels of nearby houses and other buildings and a picturesque neighbouring palm tree.

Within the interior, light and shade play a pivotal role in making the simple spaces feel vibrant. At dusk, the spare interior is animated by the beams of lamps, combined with a restrained lighting scheme, throwing engaging diagonal shadows throughout. Again, simplicity of means satisfying a modest intention has been the key to creating quite theatrical results.

Read more from ArchitectureAU, A Virtue of Restraint: South Melbourne House