The bottom floor and courtyard of this house in Melbourne by Studio Architecture Gestalten are sunk underground (+ slideshow).
Residents enter through a timber-framed door, which leads straight into a living room and kitchen that occupies the entire ground floor.
Stairs lead down to two bedrooms and a utility room below, which each open out onto the sunken courtyard.
The pitched roof of the house is clad in the same grey render as the exterior walls and has no eaves.
Studio Architecture Gestalten previously completed a little titanium zinc-clad house in the same city.
Photography is by Nils Koenning.
Here's a project description from the architects:
‘Sunken courtyard’ house in Melbourne Australia completed by Swiss-Australian studio architecture GESTALTEN
A new ‘sunken courtyard’ house has been completed by Swiss-Australian studio architecture GESTALTEN. The house is located in Elsternwick, an inner city suburb of Melbourne, with the double storey building erected on a tiny site of 10 x 15 metres.
“For the ‘sunken courtyard’ house we looked at a solution that would create a climax of excitement between context and the new house,” said Günter Gerlach, design principal of Gestalten.
He said that given the local council’s extensive town planning regulations, the brief, and the site circumstances, the architect’s idea is based on the unusual kind of sunken courtyard, a below ground construction originally developed in China and closely related to the tradition of ancient cave dwellings of four thousand years ago.
In the new house, every room, with windows from floor to ceiling, faces the sunken courtyard, a bold creation that connects space and the relationship between building and human being.
“The contemporary building is integrated into the surroundings, moving between preservation and re-formation by respecting the existing settings and built forms. Structure, form and materialization are in a reciprocal dialogue between context and architectural object," said Mr. Gerlach.
Maintaining a balance of durability, utility and aesthetic, the new house provides appropriate living in a small space.
While the spatial concept for the ground floor is designed as an open floor plan combining the function of cooking and dining with living, the below ground level contains bedrooms, en-suite, laundry and bathroom.
The sunken courtyard is conceived as another room where the amalgamation of external and internal space creates a unique room atmosphere, enabling interaction with nature and architecture.