Cloud House

Cloud House, Melbourne - Australia, McBride Charles Ryan
Construction year: 2012
Address: 26 Barkly St, Fitzroy North | MELBOURNE | Australia
Latitude/Longitude: -37.77839, 144.97977

This is a house of contrasts. The existing house was both preserved and cleverly renewed. The facade is maintained to demonstrate respect for the evolution of the character of the street. Moving inside, a vibrant carpet immediately alerts the occupant that there is bolder architecture ahead.

A new structure of a ‘box’ contains the new kitchen creating a threshold between the existing fabric and introducing the new, red heart of the house. The kitchen bridges into the new living space, the junction box is lower to allow northern light into the rear extension. The result is a beautiful balance of north/south light in the cloud shaped room.

The extruded Cloud is a beautiful form to occupy. It is snug, engulfing the occupants with the dramatic ceiling of the timber-lined ‘cloud’ form and walls that merge with the ground plane. With its large areas of glazing at each end, this playful ‘cloud’ places the family space securely and central to the back yard, with their lap pool just metres away.

The design is not only creative, but highly functional and a space that hugs the occupants, that is warm and that is fun. A lot of design is a too serious and the clients didn’t want that for their home.
The use of extrusions are an efficient approach to creating interesting forms, basically a barrel-vault in construction.

The front of the house is like that of every other house in the street. It is a modest double fronted Victorian and there is no hint from the front that a large cloud sits out the back. So coming in the front door, you don’t expect a hallway carpet that is more like a floral garden. Then, coming into the kitchen, you don’t expect a pixellated red and black box as a space. And least of all do you expect to walk into a cloud shaped room at the end of the house.

These extensions are a bold reinterpretation of a typical suburban brief. Cloud House places the ‘new’ boldly next to the ‘old’ and celebrates the both of them. It is unique in its presentation of 3 distinct parts, creating a sequence of distinct and unexpected episodes that explores new architectural language.

The craftsmanship demonstrated in this extrusion is remarkable throughout. Timber-lined, with a sense of care typically associated with the work of a cooper or a wheelwright.

The geometry of the Cloud House cleverly achieves innovative form without appearing to be subservient to planning envelope restrictions. We liked the idea of the optimism of Pop Art, as well as taking the banal and slightly changing it. We speculated about the idea of a child’s drawing of a cloud having a dream like quality. We wanted to achieve that dream. Blatantly sculptural, while enhancing the amenity for the occupants the Cloud House is a daring argument in the long tradition of architectural discourse regarding representational form in architecture.

Contributed by McBride Charles Ryan

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