Architecture

Fun-filled Union House is child's play

Fun-filled Union House is chil...
Union House opens up to the garden with large glass doors
Union House opens up to the garden with large glass doors
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Union House is a new build but makes use of the brick facade from the original home that stood on the site
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Union House is a new build but makes use of the brick facade from the original home that stood on the site
Union House was commissioned when the family's original home became too small for their needs
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Union House was commissioned when the family's original home became too small for their needs
Union House's first floor is centered around an open plan area that includes a kitchen, living room, and dining space. The cabinetry is constructed from Equitone, a material generally used as an external cladding, to offer a contrast against the cross-laminated timber and brick
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Union House's first floor is centered around an open plan area that includes a kitchen, living room, and dining space. The cabinetry is constructed from Equitone, a material generally used as an external cladding, to offer a contrast against the cross-laminated timber and brick
Union House's basement area is reached by a slide
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Union House's basement area can be reached by a wooden slide
"Our old single-fronted residence suited us fine when our children were very small but, after time, the property was no longer practical for our needs," explains Union House's owners. "Attached as we were to the place, rather than sell up and move elsewhere, we decided to engage the services of an architect who understood the challenges of building in the inner city, with limited space, restricted access and proximity of neighboring residences"
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"Our old single-fronted residence suited us fine when our children were very small but, after time, the property was no longer practical for our needs," explains Union House's owners. "Attached as we were to the place, rather than sell up and move elsewhere, we decided to engage the services of an architect who understood the challenges of building in the inner city, with limited space, restricted access and proximity of neighboring residences"
Union House's interior measures 285 sq m (roughly 3,000 sq ft)
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Union House's interior measures 285 sq m (roughly 3,000 sq ft)
Union House;s an office area
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Union House's office area incorporates the old brick of the previous house, adding character to the new build
Union House is topped by a green roof
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Union House is topped by a green roof
Union House's rooftop has a deck area, in addition to the green roof section
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Union House's rooftop has a deck area, in addition to the green roof section
Union House is very much designed with fun in mind and its second floor includes a net area and a climbing wall
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Union House is very much designed with fun in mind and its second floor includes a net area and a climbing wall
Union House's basement is used as a media room
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Union House's basement is used as a media room
Union House features a winding black steel staircase at its center
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Union House features a winding black steel staircase at its center
Union House's interior decor leaves the uncovered timber on display
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Union House's interior decor leaves the uncovered timber on display
"A ramp, a glazed trap door, a series of climbing holds and nets enable this energetic family to clamber up walls without ever interacting with the stairs," explains Austin Maynard Architects. "A throughly unconventional way to move through a home, and a wonderful way to distract active boys"
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"A ramp, a glazed trap door, a series of climbing holds and nets enable this energetic family to clamber up walls without ever interacting with the stairs," explains Austin Maynard Architects. "A throughly unconventional way to move through a home, and a wonderful way to distract active boys"
Union House opens up to the garden with large glass doors
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Union House opens up to the garden with large glass doors
Drone image showing the cramped site in Melbourne, Australia, that Union House is situated in
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Drone image showing the cramped site in Melbourne, Australia, that Union House is situated in
A photo of the original home that was demolished to create Union House
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A photo of the original home that was demolished to create Union House
Union House's upstairs bathroom is used by the children and features a "cartoonish" blue fiberglass molded interior
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Union House's upstairs bathroom is used by the children and features a "cartoonish" blue fiberglass molded interior
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A slide, nets, a climbing wall, and a hidden entrance: it sounds like the description of a kid's playground, but it's actually the latest residential project by Austin Maynard Architects. The Australian firm was hired to demolish an aging family house and replace it with their "forever home," and did so with its usual flair for the unexpected.

Union House is situated on a compact inner-city plot in Melbourne and incorporates some of the old house that was demolished. The brick front-facing facade and adjoining side wall were retained. A large new CLT (cross-laminated timber) addition now forms the main structure of the home.

The interior measures 285 sq m (roughly 3,000 sq ft) and consists of two main levels, plus a basement and roof deck with partially green roof, and contains four bedrooms and three bathrooms. The first floor is arranged around an open plan living, dining, and kitchen area that opens onto the garden with large glass doors.

The basement level media room can be accessed either using the main staircase or a secret entrance that's revealed by lifting a glass panel in the kitchen and descending down a steep wooden slide.

Union House's basement is used as a media room
Union House's basement is used as a media room

The fun extra touches continue upstairs. Bookcases can be moved, hidden doors found, and a climbing wall and a net form part of an alternative method of navigating the home – it sounds like a fantastic place to grow up.

"In the center of Union is a black steel winding staircase, with part perforated treads," explains Austin Maynard Architects. "It is a beautiful way to move between levels, however the clients wanted a back up plan. A way to get from the basement all the way to the roof without needing to take the standard route. A ramp, a glazed trap door, a series of climbing holds and nets enable this energetic family to clamber up walls without ever interacting with the stairs. A thoroughly unconventional way to move through a home, and a wonderful way to distract active boys. Though filled with ideas, Union is a coherent and practical family home that encompasses and responds directly to this unique client."

Union House is very much designed with fun in mind and its second floor includes a net area and a climbing wall
Union House is very much designed with fun in mind and its second floor includes a net area and a climbing wall

Austin Maynard Architects added some sustainability features along the way too. As well as the use of CLT sourced from sustainably-managed forests, rainwater is captured and stored in an underground tank. A green roof area improves insulation, and bricks were recycled for the paving.

Source: Austin Maynard Architects

View gallery - 18 images
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