Washington Avenue Townhouses / Pandolfini Architects


© Rory Gardiner

© Rory Gardiner
  • Builder: Duo Built
  • Styling: Nina Provan

© Derek Swalwell

© Derek Swalwell

Text description provided by the architects. These homes tell the story of a family and examine how large suburban blocks can be adapted to deal with generational change and the rapid rise of property prices. The site was purchased in 1972 and was the long-time family home of our clients. 40 years on, the children had grown up, moved out and the original Californian bungalow had fallen into disrepair. Circumstances arose requiring one of the sons and his young family to move back to live with their father and the decision was made to build two homes on the site so they could all live together without… living together.


Ground Floor Plan

Ground Floor Plan

The brief was simple; create two generous homes on the site which didn’t feel like townhouses. There were several precedents along the leafy, eastern suburb street for subdividing a block of land; side by side townhouses with front facades dominated by garages and rooms accessed off a long corridor. We flipped this arrangement and located one dwelling behind the other, providing each home with large entry spaces, generous living areas and gardens oriented to the northern aspect.


© Derek Swalwell

© Derek Swalwell

The front façade gives little away to the street with the new houses designed to read as a single residence, referencing the established rhythm of the streetscape. A simple material palette of black zinc cladding and stained black timber battens reinforce the sculptural form of the building. Patterned timber screens conceal the large front windows, providing privacy to the inhabitants and eroding the elements typically associated with a house. The two homes have been designed specifically for their inhabitants; a two-bedroom apartment at the front for the father and a larger, three-bedroom apartment for the son and his young family at the rear.


© Rory Gardiner

© Rory Gardiner

Front Elevation

Front Elevation

© Rory Gardiner

© Rory Gardiner

Elements typically associated with much larger houses have been used to provide a sense of space and in the tightly planned block. Entry to the back apartment is via a dramatic double height foyer space, lit from above by a large circular skylight and containing a solid steel staircase. Heavily textured concrete render and black timber are used on the internal walls which have been designed to slowly reveal and delineate the living spaces as one moves through the house.


© Derek Swalwell

© Derek Swalwell

This development has successfully provided two generations with generous homes on the one site -affording them the associated social and financial benefits. The sculptural façade provides a counterpoint to the adjacent townhouses and a positive contribution to the streetscape and wider neighborhood.  


© Derek Swalwell

© Derek Swalwell

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