VISION Issue 50 - Page 19

19 Architecture frequently produces a great divide. When it polarises opinion, it is mission accomplished for many architects. Better still when it rises above difference for its own sake and transforms public perceptions. The Northcote House by Ola Studio is a design with the potential to divide – and unify. If it has detractors, then it also has a big fan base. In the process of posing questions, it also provides plenty of answers. Does it complement its streetscape, or challenge the status quo for a new direction and approach? Cloaked in black with windows strategically sized and located, Ola’s design is architecture as liveable sculptural art. Viewed within the context of the street it’s an upstart neighbour, but considered more broadly, the house is contemporary architecture at its best. It is of its time and without obvious allegiance to old ways of living or building. Think Grand Designs and Kevin McCloud hosting of the British Architects short-list of ‘best house’ and, apart from the tyranny of distance, this project could quite comfortably enjoy such an international screening. Pritzker laureate and now jury chairman Glenn Murcutt extols architecture of ‘privacy and prospect’. In other words, occupants enjoying the best of both worlds – able to retreat from the hubbub, yet feel immersed in the best of their surroundings. It’s a mantra instinctively understood by architects interested in public engagement and private shelter. The Northcote House is exemplary with its decisive, graphic envelope of steel, aluminium and glass that speaks so fluently to its site and neighbours. And it’s a beauty much more than skin deep. PROJECT Ross, Northcote, Victoria ARCHITECT Ola Studio PRINCIPAL GLAZING Viridian EnergyTech™ Clear & ScalaTexture™ Satinlite TEXT, IMAGES & FILM Peter & Jenny Hyatt