Clinton Murray Architects crowns Levo's House in Australia with a soaring fly roof

Featuring angular forms inspired by the geometry of its site, the home in Hawthorn, Victoria, forges a dialogue between the residents and the surrounding neighbourhood.

by Jerry ElengicalPublished on : Dec 11, 2021

As the pandemic transformed lives and forced the world to retreat indoors, the notion of a home as a fortified, air-tight sanctuary solidified far beyond earlier preconceptions. While this radical paradigm shift was set into motion, Melbourne-based office, Clinton Murray Architects, was enlisted to design a home for a couple in the suburban locality of Hawthorn, in Victoria, Australia. The clients desired a relatively concise architectural statement for this residence to contrast the formality of their previous home - which had to accommodate their two sons and three feline companions. Hoping for an abode that would be more spatially conservative than their earlier lodgings, the clients settled upon a narrow, triangular plot of land adjoining a park, in close proximity to the thoroughfare of Glenferrie Road. 

Angular volumes dressed in wood panelling and concrete rest beneath the home’s hovering fly roof | Levo’s House | Clinton Murray Architects | STIRworld
Angular volumes dressed in wood panelling and concrete rest beneath the home’s hovering fly roof Image: Peter Bennetts

“Our clients Daniel and Sandra were very open about us creating an entirely new way of living for them,” shares the project team in an official statement, adding, “they challenged us to design a remarkable home on this difficult, small triangular site that allowed them to live in the treetops.” In fact, the site’s trilateral footprint was the most noteworthy obstacle faced throughout the design process, which honed in on the client’s eye for detail, while inverting conventional archetypes of vertical zoning in residential design. Recessing the spaces on the ground floor to offer greater seclusion for the bedrooms and other private zones, the team at Clinton Murray Architects designed the upper floor of the home - dubbed ‘Levo’s House’ - to be fully open and permeable to the eyes of passers-by.

  • The home is settled upon a triangular site in a suburban area near Melbourne | Levo’s House | Clinton Murray Architects | STIRworld
    The home is settled upon a triangular site in a suburban area near Melbourne Image: Peter Bennetts
  • The main entrance flows into the staircase and bedrooms on the ground floor | Levo’s House | Clinton Murray Architects | STIRworld
    The main entrance flows into the staircase and bedrooms on the ground floor Image: Peter Bennetts
  • Wood panelling is used throughout the interior design | Levo’s House | Clinton Murray Architects | STIRworld
    Wood panelling is used throughout the interior design Image: Peter Bennetts

Crowned by a diagonal fly roof that seemingly hovers above the angular volumes of the residence’s upper floor, the pavilion-like façade design is dynamic and transparent, with large glazed openings that grant neighbours a peek into the lives of the home’s inhabitants. “The ground floor offers privacy, seclusion and retreat, referencing the client’s brief, while the first floor living areas offer a window into their lives,” share the architects. “The design 'moment' for us was taking the planning control stipulating a 'pitched roof' and adapting the triangular geometry of the site into a folded fly roof that reads as lightly as possible.” They add, “We worked closely with an extraordinarily creative engineer from Canberra, Ken Murtagh, to create a roof that mystifies!” The irregular forms exhibit an asymmetrical harmony, with alternating surfaces dressed either in Holcim Agilia concrete or Accoya timber cladding.

  • The central staircase connects the entryway to the kitchen and dining area on the upper floor | Levo’s House | Clinton Murray Architects | STIRworld
    The central staircase connects the entryway to the kitchen and dining area on the upper floor Image: Peter Bennetts
  • The main living space features the Knoll Bertoia Large Diamond chair and Walter Knoll Prime Time sofas | Levo’s House | Clinton Murray Architects | STIRworld
    The main living space features the Knoll Bertoia Large Diamond chair and Walter Knoll Prime Time sofas Image: Peter Bennetts
  • A concrete terrace extends towards the main road from the living area | Levo’s House | Clinton Murray Architects | STIRworld
    A concrete terrace extends towards the main road from the living area Image: Peter Bennetts

Forgoing a conventional basement parking garage, the architects made a strong case for an open carport surmounted by a roof terrace to solve the issue posed by off-street parking requirements. This decision resulted in the addition of a sweeping concrete canopy that floats over the array of pickets constituting the fencing along the site boundary. The angled entryway opens into a transition area bordered by the staircase, with a textured wood-finished wall that captures the eye on stepping into the premises. Towards both the northern and southern extremities of the site are the residence’s two bedrooms. Hand troweled concrete screed has been utilised for the flooring throughout most of the internal spaces, interjected by bursts of wood textures.

  • Contrasts between the wood panelling and concrete screed define the interior palette | Levo’s House | Clinton Murray Architects | STIRworld
    Contrasts between the wood panelling and concrete screed define the interior palette Image: Peter Bennetts
  • Washrooms on the upper floor feature handmade concrete basins | Levo’s House | Clinton Murray Architects | STIRworld
    Washrooms on the upper floor feature handmade concrete basins Image: Peter Bennetts

Occupying the core of the internal layout, the main staircase leads into a dining and kitchen area towards the plot’s eastern end. Surfaces clad in textured wood rest beneath the skewed geometries of the roof structure, which forms triangular clerestory windows along the space’s bounding walls. The main living area lies on the other side of the staircase, facing the main road. Populated by the Knoll Bertoia Large Diamond chair and Walter Knoll Prime Time sofas, this zone’s large windows forge a dialogue between the residents and the streetscape beyond the home’s confines. Two roof terraces at the southeastern and northwestern corners of the site serve to extend this connection to the urban realm.

  • Conceptual sketch of the site zoning | Clinton Murray Architects | STIRworld
    Conceptual sketch of the site zoning Image: Courtesy of Clinton Murray Architects
  • Washrooms on the upper floor feature handmade concrete basins | Levo’s House | Clinton Murray Architects | STIRworld
    Ground Floor Plan Image: Courtesy of Clinton Murray Architects
  • First Floor Plan | Clinton Murray Architects | STIRworld
    First Floor Plan Image: Courtesy of Clinton Murray Architects

Muted, earthy tones of wood and concrete define the interior design scheme developed by Clinton Murray Architects, which captures the abundance of daylight filtered in through the home’s many floor-to-ceiling windows. The high thermal mass of the upper level ensures adequate levels of thermal comfort, alongside the rudimentary mechanical ventilation systems installed for heating and cooling. In essence, this arrangement ensures that the residents maintain links to the external environment, while being sheltered from the harsher elements of weather. The team at Clinton Murray Architects mentions, “The house has become the talking point of the neighbourhood. We have witnessed people stopping to chat to our clients, a pleasant contrast to the barriers other properties present to the street.”

  • Cross Section | Clinton Murray Architects | STIRworld
    Cross Section Image: Courtesy of Clinton Murray Architects
  • Longitudinal Section | Clinton Murray Architects | STIRworld
    Longitudinal Section Image: Courtesy of Clinton Murray Architects

Project Details

Name: Levo’s House
Location: Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia
Area: 300 sqm
Architect: Clinton Murray Architects
Year of completion: 2020
Project Team: Clinton Murray and Emily Wallace
Interior Design: Clinton Murray Architects
Landscape Design: Kihara Landscape
Builder: Jorant Pty Ltd
Engineer: Ken Murtagh

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