Flexible Functionality — Insight

Insight by Sally Timmins

The world has and is still feeling the effects of a global pandemic and it has forced us to re-evaluate, reassess and become flexible in the way we work and live.

In planning out a house we have traditionally started with the site and its constraints. A lot of the domestic projects we work on are located in the CBD or inner suburbs and generally have limited external space and very little natural light.  So we have always found solutions to the challenge of bringing in light and the connection to green space.

An example of this is “Little B” a house that covers the entire small site, it is built to three of its four boundaries which meant no windows to the boundary walls.  The one façade that we were able to have a lot of glass was south facing which receives little direct sunlight.  The solution we found was to create a light well in the north east corner allowing windows to the north and east which bathes the kitchen in light.  Saw tooth roofs draw the sunlight into the two second storey bedrooms and skylights not only light up the stairs but open allow fresh air in and hot air to exhaust out.

Ventilating houses has always has been a top priority for us as well, so during the pandemic while we were stuck inside during lockdown our clients were enjoying light filled, well ventilated spaces connected to gardens.

The pandemic has reinforced this need for light, ventilation and connection to landscape, but it has also made us think about the process of separating our potentially virus exposed clothes and shopping with the environment inside our homes.  A mudroom, laundry or powder room accessed from the outside or from an entry where occupants can disrobe, sanitize and wipe down shopping before entering the living spaces has become part of our planning.  And dedicated or flexible space that can be set up to allow client’s to work from home has now become part of project briefs if not the main reason for renovations and additions.

Planning flexible spaces that can house multiple functions is necessary to allow parents to work from home, children to be schooled and toddlers entertained while acoustically separating each function.  And when it comes to the detailed design, hands free taps, surfaces that are easily wiped and the afore mentioned sanitized landing zone can help us navigate and ease the strain locally of a global problem.