Drawing on the client’s appreciation for Japanese architecture and culture, Australian architecture firm SG2 Design created the Samurai Duplex, a pair of townhouses that takes design cues from traditional samurai armor. Topped with a broken roofline reminiscent of a samurai helmet, the Samurai Duplex is a sculptural dwelling with a minimalist and modern aesthetic that responds to the natural environment. To meet the clients’ request for low-maintenance, energy-efficient units, the architects employed passive solar principles and strategically located openings to promote cross-flow ventilation.

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Located in a quiet, leafy suburban neighborhood in Melbourne, the Samurai Duplex was built to replace an existing weatherboard house. SG2 Design was tasked with maximizing floor area and respecting the local site context while following strict council requirements for setbacks and access. The architects focused on giving the building a clean and modern appearance with low-maintenance cladding that includes Terracade terracotta and zinc. The roof is topped with Colorbond sheets.

Inside, the two-story duplex includes four spacious bedroom units with multiple bathrooms and living areas that embrace the outdoors through large aluminum-framed glass doors and windows. The double-glazed openings — which also include skylights and clerestory windows with operable louvers — promote cross-flow ventilation for natural cooling. Large roof overhangs help shield the windows from unwanted solar heat gain and provide shelter from the elements. The property is also equipped with underfloor hydronic heating and solar hot water systems for greater energy efficiency.

Related: This 1950s log home was renovated to include a samurai sword-inspired roof

“The brief asked for low-maintenance, energy-efficient units with a point of difference and uniqueness, which was addressed through proper solar orientation and sensitive design,” the architecture firm explained in a project statement. “Green roofs were originally proposed for the first roof areas to increase thermal insulation and rainwater retention, while also creating secondary ‘backyards’ for upper living areas.”

+ SG2 Design

Images by Michael Gazzola