Hill House Northcote Melbourne Australia  Architects: Andrew May

Working around small sites and limited sunlight often involves creative concepts, but this one is really over the top, so to speak.

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Hill house faux grass

Andrew Maynard Architects (images by Nic Granleese) crafted an artificial hill to both separate and engage a backyard space, while lofting a living volume above it.

Hill house patio

The result is a contiguous wrapping surface that can be occupied in all kinds of ways, engaging the sun above via the tilted interior box but also providing a mix of light and shade for the outside zones.

Hill house living room
Hill House kitchen

The remarkable effect is one of openness despite suburban enclosure – a sense of playful, natural and rural elements revisited in controlled modern forms. Truly an outstanding piece for an otherwise-ordinary neighborhood of Melbourne, Australia.

Hill House back

“Design is complex. There is little that is more complex to design than a home, however fundamental issues offer an architect a starting point; where is the sun? How do we capture it in winter, how do we exclude it in summer? The thin allotments that dominate Melbourne’s northern suburbs often provide indomitable constraints to solar access and therefore require the production of unorthodox ideas to overcome these constraints and convert them into opportunities.”

Hill House view

“The site faces north therefore relegating the backyard, the family’s primary outdoor space, to shadow throughout the year. In the 90s a two storey extension was added reducing solar access even further while creating deep dark space within the house. A family of five wished to create a long-term home, which could meet the requirements of three small children and their slow transformation into young adults over the years.”

Hill house opening
Hill House unusual home

“Rather than repeating past mistakes and extending from the rear in a new configuration, the proposal was to build a new structure on the rear boundary, the southern edge of the block, upon the footprint of what had been, until now, the back yard. The new structure faces the sun employing passive solar gain. Saturating itself with sunlight. The new structure faces the original house. The backyard is now the centre of the house activated by the built form around it. The old house is converted into “the kids’ house”. The old house is as it once was. The rear of the simple masonry structure, though spatially connected, is not reoriented, a face is deliberately not applied. It is left honest and robust. With a restrained piece of “street art” to be applied.”