Project Name: The Cross Stitch House
Project Architect: F M D Architects
Project Completion: 2013
Project Location: Melbourne, Australia
Project Team: Fiona Dunin, Andrew Carija, Robert Kolak
Photographer: Peter Bennetts
Structural Engineer: Macleod Consulting P/L
Landscape Architect: Eckersley Garden Architecture
Led by Fiona Dunin, FMD Architects is a Melbourne based design firm with an all-encompassing experience in architecture, with projects of varying scales, types and budgets. With an emphasis on an intensive design process and meticulous detailing stemming from the personal and collective histories of their clients, FMD Architects triumphantly craft unique design responses instead of offering generic solutions.
Working with a simple design brief outlining the functional requirements of the client, the project aim was to create new living spaces, relocate the kitchen and the bathroom and enhance the access of the spaces to natural light. A distinct prerequisite of the brief was to mould the design to include the three tapestries made by the client’s mother.
Following their design philosophy to celebrate the uniqueness of every project, the architects crafted the design approach while exploring the tradition of tapestry and the intricacies of stitching techniques, which was to ‘stitch’ the new house form to the existing one.
The connection between the old house and the new living room is designed through the means of timber beams, which resemble the thread that stitches the two structural entities. This stitch further continues till the western courtyard. These beams join together in a large timber column, the entire element resembling a bobbin thread.
A mirror is placed intentionally within the courtyard at the end of the threads to craft an impression of unrestrained space and a sense of unravelling. The western facade has the timber frames twisting over it, providing more shade to the Living area, which will soon be taken over by the surrounding greenery.
The formal house outline is stressed upon as one goes over the width of the site, where the outdoor beams end, which also symbolizes the tie off of a tapestry. This form is repeated in the landscape paving and also in the internal joinery.
The Cross Stitch House is a paradigm showcasing the seamless union between the three disciplines of architecture, interior design and landscape, which may superficially appear to be divergent. These three components fuse with each other, giving the project a remarkable dimension. Although the site and the spaces are compact, owing to the physical and visual connection created between the continuous beams, the interior spaces converge with their exterior surroundings harmoniously, making one perceive a large, singular space.
The numerous design elements in the project, such as the joineries and the landscape, highlight the depth of the core design idea and its reference to the tapestries. The built components forge a perpetual dialogue between the traditional and the contemporary.
There has been a thoughtful consideration given to natural features like light and ventilation. The careful planning of the spaces, positioning of skylights and focussing of the courtyards have facilitated the flow of natural light and ventilation throughout the day. The living room is naturally cooled by the water garden near it.
The locally sourced materials, although simplistic and economical, have been utilized in rich and novel ways, thus making them express the inherent idea of the design beautifully. The design studio embraces its particularity of conducting extensive research in materials and product development leading to the creation of prolific and innovative architecture.
A previously dark, Victorian terrace has been innovatively transformed into a melange of spaces that have an intense relationship with their exterior surroundings, presenting varying degrees of natural light and ventilation and cooling with the strategically placed water pools.
FMD Architects successfully creates a sanctuary in the middle of a metropolis, a series of spaces that have a distinct dialogue with one another, forming a holistic yet diverse environment. Boasting of the magnificence of openness and capacious spaces, the Cross Stitch House is a rare oasis within the hubbub of a city.
-Tanvi Naik, Volume Zero.