A multi-generational residence in Camberwell, Melbourne, where three families could both be together and separate. The private development consists of a basement and 3 apartments linked together by shared communal spaces both inside and out.
Born from the client's desire to retain strong family values and connection to their homeland, where being close to relatives is essential, the client sought to have a house that celebrated togetherness yet also had a level of separation and privacy for a busy modern life.
The concept devised was a modern, private housing development that brought all 3 families together under one roof, providing each with their own individual apartments, attuned to their style & taste, linked via a variety of shared communal facilities.
What was the brief?
The brief was to create a contemporary multi-generational home that embraced the client's migrant past and family values. Our client wanted to have his mother, brother, and his family di lei, together with his own tribe-all in one home whilst providing each with their own private space.
This idea of being together yet independent was in hindsight, a style of living that has been a blessing for the family in a time when the connection to one another has never been so important. This multi-faceted house allowed for the family to create their own bubble where they could be with one another yet still retain their individual identities and space, during what has been a challenging time over the last 2 years from COVID-19.
What were the key challenges?
Designed for today and future-proofed for tomorrow. Much care went into how the house could cater to the ever-present challenges for modern family living - cultural, socio-economic, and relationship dynamics. The team sought to map out future scenarios in the spatial planning and the way things are connected to ensure the dwellings could adapt to the many changes life can present and provide homes that would cater to the various family members, from multiple generations, for the long term.
Another key challenge of this project was to be able to mediate & find balance between all three apartments. While the residence is designed in unison, catering to 3 families in one building, there are unique and individual characteristics that are dotted throughout each apartment that respond to the characteristics of various family members - such as the Batman inspired 'Bat Pole' escape route from the penthouse home office to shared basement carpark. This is an experiment with how movements can be made through the development and adds a bit of excitement to the client's daily routine. To be simply stated, it was a unique but enjoyable design choice made by the client.
Aside from the typical planning issues and build-ability workshopping required to develop this project, the aim was to soften the architecture, so, rather than the building look like three different houses, it would read as one. The double height communal entry space was used to mark the facade with a soft gestural curve for a grand pre arrival space. This pronounced shape goes out to meet the entry, and helps to lighten the front of the building, creating a generous welcome for residents and visitors. The highly tinted glass allows for the capturing of natural light and views out while still providing protection and privacy from the busy street. The foyer is a semi-public space, and assists with that transition between communal and private, providing space to congregate and then break off into separate quarters. The residents can meet out the front, greet guests, socialize, or do family activities, and then part ways.
Another essential consideration was how to cater to the flood level on the existing site. The resolution was raising the land up. This helped to incorporate a basement without having to excavate too deep. Working with the land in this way not only addressed flooding issues but ensured that the building wasn’t too subterranean and sits up proudly in the streetscape.
What were the solutions?
The proposal for the Camberwell Multi-Generational House was to introduce a strong expression of contemporary design. From every angle, the building needed to be striking, whilst sitting comfortably in its coveted location.
Located in a thoroughfare street in Melbourne’s inner leafy east, curved contoured forms of the grand family home in Camberwell follow the landscape. Olive trees in the front are dotted amongst the raised-up lawn, providing further connection to the client’s heritage and screening from the street. It’s here that the architecture takes shape - intuitive to its location and purpose, bending with the hillside creating a welcoming feeling for this family-orientated home as guests and residents enter through the generous organic-shaped lobby.
The architectural forms and composition consistently refer to the concept of being separate yet together – there is togetherness in the overall materiality yet independence in the forms. The ground floor residence pushes forward while the upper floor dwelling is set back from the street creating a clear divide. This pushing and pulling of structures delineate the dwellings. The double-story common space is brought even further forward, summarizing the development by bringing all residences together at the front, linking the upper and lower floors in the double-height space.
The front of the property faces east, so the front-facing façades are slightly angled towards the northeast to capture the best light as it tracks throughout the day. Cantilevered elements jut out for drama while performing as shading devices.
The material palette selected is paired back and clean, to ensure the home would be timeless and not ostentatious, remaining relevant, not a trend based. Exterior forms curves were chamfered to blend the facade in, removing harsh shapes that were fixed in one direction and gave the building a fluid feel where it could blur between the left and right. Black metal framed tinted glazing create uniform bands for a seamless look. Bold blades continue the vertical linear lines strengthening the shape of the building, separating rooms, and enhancing contrast in materiality.
Once inside the light-filled grand entrance, the building breaks off into multiple residences. Upstairs the parents, with their children, downstairs the brother and his family, and towards the rear & side of the property is the grandparents’ abode. Each family has their own private apartment, which join under one roof and via central, shared, common areas – such as the pool, rear yard space, lobby, and basement which contains a gym, movie room, and car parking to share.
All 3 individualized apartments are reflective of the family members that live there, customized to their unique taste, and needs. The mother’s 2-bed pad is located on the ground floor at the side and rear of the property for easy accessibility and privacy, the main client has the entire top floor residence and the brother’s family are in the sub penthouse dwelling at the front on the ground floor.
In terms of spatial arrangements, apartments have been designed to have bedrooms and private spaces capable of maximizing natural light placed towards the front of the house. The entertainment and living areas are situated towards the rear of the dwelling, overlooking the private outdoor areas, where each apartment can open to the backyard, breezes, and connect to the communal activity zones while having ample separation from the street.
For the home to sit well in its context and incorporate off-street parking without the home being too subterranean, and manage a flood plain, the excess land from the excavation was used to raise up the house to avoid low-lying issues. The introduction of the shared basement car parking ensures this large family with various members of driving age, has plenty of space to park inside the property without impacting space on the busy street. The basement also houses the communal rumpus, cinema & gym space, providing amenities similar to that of a modern apartment complex, providing residents with opportunities to socialize with one another whilst splitting the expenses and access of these bonus spaces.
Skylights were included to ensure the interiors had soft ambient light internally. The combination of open common thoroughfares & lightwells within the buildings central structure not only provides health benefits to the residences & their homes by encouraging natural light and air to pervade through the building but abridges the building's reliance on artificial lighting and mechanical systems to keep these areas regulated – reducing running costs, building maintenance and emissions.
Overall, the design draws from a cultural spirit at the same time lends itself to having a sense of autonomy and independence. This multi-generational home assists the younger generation (that often stay at home longer) whilst providing the older members with companionship, a helping hand, and connection. With current socio-economic factors and housing affordability issues, this style of home provides the children with an environment that can assist them for longer, at various stages of life, where they can grow into teenagers and on to young adults with the help of the extended family around them in a house that provides both independence, togetherness, and security.
What are the sustainability features?
A multi-generational design reduces the family's carbon footprint by densifying and splitting the building, rather than each individual group having their own respective homes on different sites - which would have a far greater impact. As a communal home, they share utilities, garden space, and common areas. Using this type of densified living arrangement also provides other benefits to health & wellbeing such as inclusivity, mutual support, accessibility, and adaptability.
The design also incorporates 3, 5000L rainwater tanks, double glazing, and has provisions for a 20kW solar farm on the roof & battery storage in the basement. Built from solid, low embodied energy concrete, the structural integrity of the dwelling will withstand the elements and test of time.
1. Kitchen Island Bench - Toros Black Feature Stone – G-Lux
2. General Flooring - Ceramiche Caesar Porcelain Tile – G-Lux
3. General Joinery - Charred Timber Veneer – Elton Group
4. General Joinery - Saltwood Timber Veneer – Elton Group
5. General Wall Paint - Lexicon Quarter– Dulux
6. General Joinery - Black Melamine for Joinery – Polytec
7. General Joinery -Vivid White 2 Pac Paint Finish Cabinetry - Polytec
8. Feature Wall - Venetian Plaster Finish Stucco Light Grey - Dulux
9. Joinery Details & Handles - Brass Metal – Australian Metals
10. Joinery Handles
11. Kitchen & Bathrooms Feature Stone - Elba Stone Honed – G-Lux
12. Kitchen Pendant Light - High Line ByArchier – Rakumba
13. Kitchen Cooktop -6388 Power Flex induction cooktop – Miele
14. Integrated Ovens - 90cm M touch pyrolytic oven – Miele
15. Integrated Coffee Machine – Miele
16. Integrated Dishwasher - Miele
17. Integrated Rangehood – Miele
18. Built-in refrigerator – Sub Zero
19. Built-in freezer – Sub Zero
20. Kitchen Mixer – Hansgrohe - Rogerseller
21. BathFreestanding Bath Filler – Hansgrohe – Rogerseller
22. Basin Mixer – Fantini – Rogerseller
23. Shower – Eccentric – Rogerseller
24. Shower Head - Hansgrohe - Rogerseller
25. Bathroom Accessories – Eon – Rogerseller
26. Bathtub - Classic duo oval – Rogerseller
27. Vanity Basin - Catalano – Rogerseller
28. Exterior Render – Off White
29. Exterior Metal columns & frames - The Rheinzink® Prepatina Graphite Grey
30. Exterior Clear & Tinted Glass