Minimal environmental impact was a guiding design principle behind True North, a home built from the bones of 19th century horse stables and a decaying midcentury cottage. Designed by Melbourne-based TANDEM Design Studio, the quirky two-story home takes its sinuous shape from a challenging triangular site. A seamless curving steel skin wraps around the home in a continuous pleated loop.
Named after its sunny corner site, True North was built for an architect and his family with a $750,000 project budget. The two-story, 182-square-meter building comprises two connected dwellings: old stables renovated into a one-bedroom townhouse, and a three-bedroom home built to replace a 1950s cottage. The bedrooms are located upstairs, while the communal areas, including the dining, sunken lounge, kitchen, and floor play space, are placed on the ground floor. A double-height atrium and a bridge occupy the center of the home. In contrast to its steel exterior, warm-toned timber lines the majority of the interior.
The architects liken the curved shape of the home to a standalone coral structure. “The deeply folded facade was designed to create diagonal bracing, stabilising the curving, assymetric form,” wrote the architects. “The deeply folded triangles retain a layer of still air adding to the performance of the envelope.” The dips and curves of the facade were also informed by passive solar principles and help delineate garden space and event the front door.
To minimize environmental impact, the foundation is built of insulated slab and insulated double brick construction for thermal mass. Highly insulated steel wraps around a timber frame to lock in temperatures. Bricks from the demolished cottage were salvaged and repurposed in new construction.
Images by John Gollings