This family home has been extended forward from its original siting between three massive elm trees on an elevated site in Kew above the Yarra Valley.
The new spaces have been elevated as interlocking platforms set over the original floor levels to gain greater views across the city and create a partially subterranean under storey to contain garage and cellar.
A vast concrete shell was created (after excavation during the dormant winter months) between two of the large elms. This system of construction in the manner of a swimming pool shell provided the greatest protection for the root zones of the Elms and an integrated structural base for the new portal and timber structure above. The arrangement of the new spaces and extensions to the old have been profoundly effected by the position of each of these trees as the linear arrangement of the plan shifts to find a course through the spaces between the root zones. These surrounding walls are at the outer face misaligned but both curve slightly to meet within the orthogonal framework of the original residence.
The external lining of black oiled Eucalyptus Obliqua (Messmate) was fixed in a board and batten arrangement to a double thickness stud frame that enables the cladding to float slightly beyond its concrete base. A system of gasket seals and internal screw fixings were developed to fix the three alternating profiles of timber to provide a facade with no visible fixings. This cladding system suggests the rhythm of the new stud framing and provides a texture and colour that links with surface of the surrounding trees.
An open face of sheer suspended glass curtain wall is presented to the street. At its leading edge the glazing of the steel portal is offset to provide a shift toward the city views that extend beyond alignment with the axis of the plan.
The trees provide a canopy that encompasses this entire elevation to provide a means of separation from its immediate suburban context.