Lemon Wedge House

Lemon Wedge House is sited within the Radburn town-planning precinct of Curtin. The home has two key public frontages which were carefully considered during the early design stages: the oval and green space, which formed the original ‘front yard’ within the planning scheme; and the rear lane, now more commonly utilised as the front of house but originally considered the backyard and service access way. 

The Radburn town-planning approach places heavy focus on pedestrian friendly housing, which the design of Lemon Wedge House reinforces. Numerous dwellings in the direct vicinity, including the former located on this site, were removed as part of the Mr Fluffy asbestos demolitions. With the risk that new developments would diminish the existing character of the area, we were very strict in developing a design response, which whilst being contemporary in form, has strong visual and physical connections to the playing ovals and pedestrian paths linking to the nearby shopping precinct. The rear lanes within this planning typology are typically flanked with tall hedges and garages and have anecdotally led to a history of petty crime in the area. This was a key consideration when designing the planting as well as the orientation of some key rooms and the second front entry facing this public space.

Whilst for some the direct proximity of the private living spaces to the pedestrian thoroughfare and community green spaces may be confronting, the spirit of community that this fosters and passive surveillance that it enables is still as pertinent now as it was in the 1960s. Many a curious neighbour or passer by peers into the kitchen window to check on who is home!

Given Lemon Wedge House’s location on such a prominent public site, establishing a private open space with northern aspect was critical from both a user and planning perspective. The courtyard plan form was the immediate and lasting response arrived at on the first visit to the site with our clients. This clear and early focus of all parties meant that the plan and massing remain largely unchanged from the initial concept design stages. A light-filled gallery wraps the courtyard and serves as the main circulation space. The home is also all on one level such that the owners may age in place for many years to come.

Lemon Wedge House strikes a bold silhouette, with the prominent roof form to the public frontages being intentionally defensive, casting a high shield and protective external skin in response to this relatively exposed setting, only to diminish in scale within the central, private courtyard.The palette of brickwork and steel cladding was selected for durability, affordability and timeless qualities. The horizontal tonal banding is intercepted on the three key facades with dramatic yellow incisions, drawing light and warmth into the building. Externally, the robust garden designed by Harris Hobbs Landscapes creates a visually calming central courtyard, and complements the key public frontages of Lemon Wedge House.

Completed 2019
Builder: Sutton and Horsley
Landscaping: Harris Hobbs Landscapes
Photography: Anthony Basheer

The Malcolm Moir and Heather Sutherland Award for Residential Architecture – Houses (New), 2020