Architecture Spotlight: An Inside-Out Design

I’ve already dug deep into the trenches of the Internet and discovered the best-of-the-best in terms of unmatchable wild houses. However, if I’ve learned anything about design and architecture it is this: it never stops. Trends are constantly evolving, architects are continuously finding their way outside of the box and the world of design is forever bringing us brand new designed goodness on a silver platter (and I never stop having to pick my jaw up off the floor). Such is the case with the latest cream-of-the-crop home extension project gracing the Internet.

Andrew Maynard Architects, a firm out of Australia, was asked to create a “ridiculously inside-out” extension to a small suburban home in Seddon, Victoria. The firm is known for regularly completing unique projects that show off the ability to combine cool factor with functionality. In their portfolio of past projects you can find the following:

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The Black House – A project meant to help a young couple expand in their dream location so that having a kid wouldn’t push them out of their much-loved current apartment. This project was dubbed by the architecture team as a “toy management house”.

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The Tattoo House: This is a project where interesting design was limited by a tight budget. The firm tackled council requirements dictating 75% opacity on second-story windows with UV stable stickers that replaced expensive screening solutions. The stickers were created using images taken in a local park and create interesting shadows throughout the home on a daily basis.

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The Hill House: The family of this house added on an extension in the 90s only to find that they had reduced their access to sunshine and created deep, dark space within the house. They wanted to stay in their current home, but needed a functional space for their growing family. In response to their problems, the firm created sun-facing space that kept the feel of having a backyard, blocked out harsh summer light and let in soft winter light.

After a small peak into an impressive, diverse and one-of-a-kind portfolio it is easy to see why the press has been quoted saying the quirky firm is heading towards “complete tyrannical world domination”. Luckily enough for us design nerds of the world, their latest addition is no exception.

The inside-out extension, fondly nicknamed the “Cut Paw Paw” house was intended to be an unusual living space that ultimately blended the line between the indoors and outdoors. As a structure, Cut Paw Paw was designed to look “deliberately incomplete”.

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The firm drew inspiration for their love of construction sites. Feeling a little confused? Hear them out. Their theory evolves around the fact that construction sites are rich in possibility and thus inspiration. When you walk by them on the street, you imagine what the finished building could look like. In their own words, “ the (construction) site holds so much promise when there is nothing more than a timber or steel frame. It is a jungle gym, a relic, and a skeleton full of play and imagination. Often it is when a building is as its most beautiful.”

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The architecture firm goes on to explain how in many cases, the excitement, imagination and potential are crushed “as the banality of the McMansion approaches. The beautiful skeleton that held such potential and required such imagination has been buried beneath the ordinary, the obvious and the banal”.

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While I can’t say I object to the everyday McMansion quite as strongly, I can say that the resulting design is beautiful. Andrew Maynard Architects created a central space between the couple’s also revamped dining area and music studio that exists as an unclad frame surrounded by lush green garden. It marries the inside and outside, new building and potential.

Andrew Maynard Architects didn’t stop with impeccable design. They went on to earn extra credit points with green standards. The team installed high-performance insulation where possible, created tanks that collect rainwater off of the roof to provide water for toilet flushing, a garden irrigation system and windows situated to optimize passive cooling.

No matter if you are team McMansion or team crazy out-there design, the Cut Paw Paw expansion proves that just because you are an homeowner doesn’t mean you have to give in to crown molding, granite countertops, a splash of chevron and paying your taxes. Okay, even a superb team of designers may not be able to get you out of that last one. While I can appreciate the beauty of having a little bit of the outside within the comfort of your home ­­– and love a good unconventional approach – I really only have two questions. 1) Will there be bugs? 2) Does having grass instead of carpet mean that I won’t have to vacuum?

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