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South Yarra

Essay

This architecture is an artistic supplement to an original 110 year old building. In my work as an architect I am caught between sensuality and a search for rigour, between a perverse taste for seduction and a quest for the absolute. This project explores the contradictory relationship between architecture as a sensuous experience of space and architecture as a product of the mind. I worked for ten years with a relatively successful architect who said that his lifes work came back to one ?thing, sensuousness. Bernard Tsumi argues that architecture is like eroticism. Eroticism has the double pleasure of a mental construct on one hand and a sensuality on the other. Architecture has the same balance with rational architectural concepts accompanying the immediate sensuous pleasure of space. In this project both of these aspects are presented. It has a presence of absence and the exhilarating differences between the plane and cavern, between the street and the living room, between the symmetries and asymmetries that reflect the spatial properties of the viewers body. Taken to its extreme the pleasure of space alone leads towardsthe poetics of the unconscious and ultimately to the edge of madness. On the other hand the Encyclopedia Britta nica of 1773 described architecture as being "governed by proportion, and requiring to be guided by the rule and compass, that it is a thing of the mind" but if the emphasis is on geometry alone in the form of grids and orders and axes then it becomes a language of alternating signs a frozen act of the mind. Local hero the late Kevin Borland confirmed that architecture is the art and science of building. Neither space nor geometry on their own is architecture. The ultimate pleasure of architecture is that impossible moment when an architectural act reveals both the traces of reason and the immediate experience of space. In this project walls rise up without ceilings, or roofs attach to them. These unfinished walls form fragments or splits, they are traces, they are in between. They act as a recipient in which desires canbe reflected. They do not fulfil any great utilitarian funct ion but set in mind the operation of the unconscious. A series of spatial sequences have been set up. A series of frozen frames in real space. Each frame has an emotional value, the glass roofs signal sky, release, and heaven. Black cabinets are like stealth shadows, depth, cool. Black ceilings compress the space, creating fear, anxiety. The flames of fire places equal death. Up angled rear walls imply flight, freedom and spirit. The restored facade means conservation, politics represented in the community. And lastly the horizontal stripes suggest movement, horizon, and flow. They form a linear music bar arranged along which the elements of canopies, light scoops, kitchens and bathrooms are distributed. Guiliano Fiorenzoli confirmed that architecture as an abstraction and moral idea exists and has a place consciously or unconsciously in everyone’s mind.

The idea of space exists within us as an abstracted experience which anticipates and directs the act of physically erecting a structure. Contained in this abstract process there is a realm of thinking that acts upon what one sees or remembers. Gravity, earth, water, sky, movement, light, and our bodies, all can be rediscovered in an act of synthesis through physical form. John Hajduk affirms that this search for anotherness in architecture substantiates the need for experessive poetry in our lives. Walter Pichler claims that the body is unfortunately governed by the forms of the technologies outside of it. The bodies actually should subject the world and the form around it to the specific demands of its own memories, its own emotions. The body as degree zero of meaning, as the locus and generato r of all physical forms acting as a wareho temporary representations, an ever accelerating sequence of representations. A skillion lean to roof on the rear of the property has been rebuilt higher, reversed, and given a clear glass roof to scoop morning sun into the old interior. A south sideway access has been built over with another glass roof to reflect in the north light and has been coated with new bold striping. The bathroom, has been placed facing north in the back courtyard receiving direct sun and when bathing you interact with nature. It has a floor level window to look at the garden and a skylight to look at the moon. Old ceilings have been removed with a new l ining higher under the gable form providing space for elevated platforms for sleeping and bulk storage. The front garden has been reclaimed with a landscape platform wide enough for two chairs and a table. This house was originally built when Japanese culture was not even heard of in Australia. The Japanese understanding of small spaces informs this project and positions it firmly in the climate and cultural rim of the Pacific. Thomas Kuhn writes that most architects form a pattern of behavior acquired through university education and subsequent exposure to architectural literature. Architects don’t often know what forms these patterns. The patterns often turn into rules, cultural, conditioning architects like school children. Andre Breton said that it appears that there is a certain point in the mind where life and death, reality and imagination, the past and the future, cease to be perceived in a contradictory way. I met this point during this project.

South Yarra
South Yarra
South Yarra
South Yarra