There has always been a tension within the planning system between the desire to retain the character of existing suburbs and imperatives of sustainability. Canberra is a city of 300,000 and inappropriately it takes fifty minutes to drive from one side to the other. Most accept the necessity for higher urban density and infill developments but are uncomfortable with it in their own backyard. The act of demolishing two houses, combining the blocks and constructing eight new townhouses in this quiet corner of Mawson addresses the issues relating to urban growth in a sensible, restrained and sophisticated manner.

The townhouses themselves are organised into two parallel lines of structure with a long east-west axis taking best advantage of solar gain. The initial decision to configure the site in this way determines much of its future layout. The dwellings are all organised to allow an intimate relationship of the key living areas to north facing secluded courtyards.

Determined by the context and notions of affordability the form of the buildings and materials from which they are constructed are plucked from a simple palette. Low pitched roofs with strong overhangs, lightweight materials characterising the upper level and emphasising horizontality are combined with a monochrome approach punctuated by simple natural materials for added colour and texture.

The scheme overall was not merely dictated by a design imperative but also by the commercial realities of location and market. These buildings have been built to budget, were constructed on time by an efficient and well organised contractor and the final outcome is a credit to all those involved.

project credits
Design Architect: Tony Trobe
Project Documentation: Tony Trobe
Interior Design: : Kylie Radburn and Deb Cook
Structural Consultant: Northrop
Builder: Prostyle
Photographer: RedZebra

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