Most of the time, when we want to limit the amount or intensity of light as it streams into our homes, we install blinds or hang curtains. Not so with this house extension in Victoria, Australia designed by Andrew Maynard Architects. The owners of the home wanted to add a kitchen and living space to their home that would be full of natural light — a desire easily met with glass facades that would allow light to stream in. However, in order to save the interior from baking in sunlight and to comply with local regulations, Andrew Maynard Architects decided to take a cue from nature and attach large, tree-shaped stickers that would filter the light as it entered the interior. With this clever addition, the interior receives ample daylighting through static “tree branches” that provide leafy shade and subdued privacy all year round.
Meant to feel more like an covered deck rather than an enclosed space, a corner of the extension uses bi-fold doors that allow the extension to completely open up to the outdoors. The completed project shows a full kitchen, but otherwise leaves the space open and flexible for different uses and easily becomes a staging area for outdoor events.
The clients’ desire for a sunlit interior challenged the architects to make a structure that was energy-efficient and comfortable in both winter and summer. Keeping in mind that this home is located in the southern hemisphere, the architects provided extra glazing on the southern all-glass facade to minimize heat loss in the winter. The architects also left a horizontal slot on the north-facing facade that is meant to capture winter sunlight while blocking out high summer sun. The home also includes small windows in the northwest corners and southeast corners that help create a breeze through the home that will help cool it during the summer.
The architects describe the concept for the tree tattoo as a method of creating a filtered light that gives full views out on the lower level — and creating privacy for the upper level. The permanence of the sticker effectively creates a static tree that will never be too small to provide effective shade or too large that it becomes a liability. We are still fans of real trees, as they provide shade and remove carbon dioxide, and hope that the owners of the home will consider growing one. However, Andrew Maynard’s solution is certainly beautiful and ingenious for the short term.