This project was a personal one for the architects. Robert Biscoe and Marion Wilson, their daughter Morgan, and their son-in-law Jack decided to embark on an investigation of possibility of building a new small lot house, as an alternative to renting apartments or townhouses.
As vacant housing sites within the inner urban ring of Brisbane become scarcer, the opportunity to construct new housing becomes limited. The JaM house site is made possible by the realignment of an allotment containing a character shop. The site has an irregular shape to enable the existing timber shop to be retained. The constraints of the site may have deterred some buyers as the land had been on the market for over 12 months.
The gently northern sloping block of land is situated adjacent a character shop which is over a century old. There is also a character community hall directly across Scott street.
The form of the new house responds to the vernacular buildings adjacent. Traditional lightweight materials have been used and articulated to create a feeling of small residential scale.
A splash of burnt orange colour was used a celebration of colour, which is often shunned in the ever-increasing pallet of black, white and grey used in current residential design.
The brief was to create a small family home that was environmentally responsible and had landscape opportunities for growing food, recreation, owning pets and possibly bring up children in the future. Living spaces are sized to suit functions and room, and minimise circulation. The following specialised spaces were included to suit Morgan and Jack’s unique needs:
• A place for exercise. Both Morgan and Jack are keen exercisers and use the south living room and monkey bars in the yard for exercise.
• A place for pottery. (The laundry deck is set out to suit a potting wheel)
A long-standing relationship with friend and colleague Andrew Farr from Farr Engineers enabled us to discuss simple structural solutions using standard materials and technology.
Landscaping advice from a colleague at Morgan’s school (she is a teacher) James and Melissa from Sun and Soil, provided invaluable advice on garden layout and plant selection.
Traditional building materials and methods were chosen for economy. The plan and roof forms were also regular.
The floor area is 234m2 and the overall construction cost was $360,000. Morgan and Jack added additional elements, such as a solar system and landscaping, to above the contract, bringing the total project cost to $389,400.
Environmental sustainability is a core value of Biscoe Wilson Architects. JaM House has been used as an opportunity to design a small house with good environmental credentials. The main techniques used are as follows (see the Sustainability Statement for a more details):
• Keep it small.
• Use sustainable materials that are low in carbon usage or recyclable.
• Passive solar design.
• Solar powered mechanical roof ventilation.
The JaM House is a design exercise demonstrating how architects can respond to site, budget and sustainability needs, as well as an exploration of housing affordability within the Australian context.