Law Street House by Muir Mendes

Law Street House by Muir Mendes

A drawbridge-like flap lowers from the steel-plated facade of this Melbourne bunker to reveal a bedroom window.

Law Street House by Muir Mendes

Australian architects Muir Mendes designed Law Street House for themselves.

Law Street House by Muir Mendes

The building occupies the site of a former workman's cottage and is flanked on three sides by other houses.

Law Street House by Muir Mendes

Designed to be termite-proof, the house features a steel structure plus steel doors, window frames and joinery, as well as a tallow wood floor that is unpalatable to the bugs.

Law Street House by Muir Mendes

A bedroom, living area and bathroom occupy the ground floor of the two-storey property, while a study, second bedroom and second bathroom are located on the first floor.

Law Street House by Muir Mendes

A double-height corridor crosses the house and is naturally lit by a skylight.

Law Street House by Muir Mendes

Law Street House is the fourth Australian house to be featured on Dezeen this month, after a cliff-top home anda glass-roofed residence in Sydney, and a cantilevered house in Melbourne - see all our stories about Australia here.

Law Street House by Muir Mendes

Photography is by Peter Bennetts.

Law Street House by Muir Mendes

Here's more information from the architects:


Law Street House

Located in a tight single lane street in South Melbourne the original dilapidated one bedroom workman’s cottage built in the 1880s formed the initial brief for architect’s/owner builders Bruno Mendes and Amy Muir.  To pursue the desire to construct using ones own hands formed a very important part of the brief.

Law Street House by Muir Mendes

Joe Mendes who manages steel fabrication for a large construction company formed the final link.  The following 3 and a half years of demolition, excavation and construction would be referred to as ‘the daddy Mendes apprenticeship’.

Law Street House by Muir Mendes

While working full time in practice the new house was constructed on weekends. This formed the construction program and associated cash flow.

Law Street House by Muir Mendes

The 93m2 site adjoined to the north and south neighbouring properties and contained by a rear property called for access to natural light and a view beyond. Flanked by a two storey modernist red brick façade and the ornamented timber cottage to the south, Law Street House became the fourth little pig.

Law Street House by Muir Mendes

Constructed from plate steel the façade adopts a condition of blankness concealing the second storey within the adjusted roof pitch mimicking the form of the site’s former cottage.  A ‘draw bridge’ to the front window provides privacy and curates light to the front bedroom providing a signal of occupation to the house beyond.

Law Street House by Muir Mendes

Upon entry the double height corridor directs the gaze through the full length skylight to capture a view of the existing palm tree. The inversion of the enclosed cottage corridor is adopted in order to maximise the penetration of natural light to the interior and provide an aspect ‘out’ of the tight site.

Law Street House by Muir Mendes

Sky becomes an important distraction for the gaze. The white walls play host to the passage of light that dances across the interior as the day passes patterning the walls as it moves.

Law Street House by Muir Mendes

A memory of the original lean to roof lines ripple across the underside of Level 1 defining the ‘section’ of the house.

Law Street House by Muir Mendes

The rear of the house forms a continuation of the roof line folding down the Rescode diagram to the south. The rear façade to the east is tilted ensuring that no additional overshadowing was caused to the neighbouring property.

Law Street House by Muir Mendes

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Internally the wall is pleated incorporating the heating panel and concealed blind to the window on Level 1.

Law Street House by Muir Mendes

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Steel construction was adopted to combat the tight site and aggressive termites. Windows, doors, stairs and joinery have been fabricated from steel puncturing the white interior. Tallow wood flooring was selected given that it does not suit the selective pallet of the termite. The flooring folds through the space and up the walls providing a robust skirting.

Law Street House by Muir Mendes

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Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, one study, open plan living and storage have been carefully crafted into the 115m2. The house is divided into two living zones with the Level 1 gallery study forming the in-between space.

Law Street House by Muir Mendes

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Borrowed light and borrowed vistas articulate a space for living, for gazing, for pondering, for thought.