jigsaw house

The driving idea for jigsaw house was generated by the combination of the constrained site size, heritage considerations and contested neighbourly amenity. Space was tight and there was none to waste. Finding the solution became like a solving a puzzle. To make spaces the right size it was necessary to rob the adjacent spaces of any surplus space. The stair (circular of course to minimise the footprint) cuts into the adjacent bedroom, the family bathroom breaks into the front bedroom. Built form considerations (the neighbours threatened VCAT) forced the floor to the rear part of the site down to natural ground level. 

Other strategies included the stair landing, study and terrace cutting into the bedroom below which in turn crouches under the attic roof. The main bedroom has raked walls and ceiling to maximise the usable floor area and cantilevers over the courtyard to provide a generosity of space that belies the tautly scaled form. Beyond the bedroom is the delightful ensuite with both a window giving views into trees beyond (and natural ventilation) and a large clear glazed skylight adding a sense of luxury to the bathing experience. One literally showers under the stars. The toilet is tucked in under the existing roofline to allow for the second basin.  The generous walk-in robe straddles the existing and new areas with constrained head height (it is partly under the existing roof) while an unexpected louvre window allow for views out the kitchen skylight to the roofscape beyond.

The correct solution to the puzzle of spaces was eventually found. No part is too big or too small and resultant spaces are both finely scaled and generous. The interaction of the spaces with each other is effortless and yet subtly expressed. 

Sustainability was considered integral to the design. Every available opportunity was made to bring in natural light, be it through raking skylights, borrowed-amenity skylights or the three north-facing sliding windows. The timber used both externally and internally was selected to be FSC certified and carpets and materials are low VOC and recyclable where possible. Paints and floor finishes are also low-VOC so that the clients can move in straight away without headaches or chemical smells. A water tank has been installed under the ground and paving areas drain to rain-gardens to ameliorate stormwater impact.

Site Area:



St Kilda West, Victoria