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Australian Hill House rides a wave of grass


May 8, 2012

Hill House is an urban family home in Melbourne that appears as if it is riding a wave of grass

Hill House is an urban family home in Melbourne that appears as if it is riding a wave of grass

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Australian architect Andrew Maynard has come up with an unorthodox approach to capturing the sun in winter and excluding it in the summer. One of his latest creations, Hill House, is an urban family home in Melbourne that appears as if it is riding a wave of grass. The family home extension has been built upon the footprint of what once had been the back yard, without obstructing or losing the original building. Seemingly perched above a rolling hill, the new building faces the sun and the box-shaped structure above acts as a passive solar eave, cutting out summer sun, while letting the winter sun flood in.

The unusual design for a family home was Maynard’s answer to building on a small and narrow urban block of land. The result transforms the roof into a garden and the garden into an insulated living space. The ground level features a large open living area with modern kitchen, lowered eating area, wood furnishings, polished concrete flooring and large glass windows that open out into the internal garden space.

A spiral staircase in the center of the ground floor leads to the new master bedroom, bathroom and rooftop retreat, while the original home has been transformed into the children’s bedroom and bathroom quarters. In addition, a long side passage wraps around the internal courtyard and links the new living quarters with the old family home. The passage seamlessly joins the old with the new, while creating a private internal garden space and direct access to the back entrance and new living zones.

Overall, Hill House is a great example of an unusual makeover that successfully transforms the entire appearance and functionality of a traditional town house.

Source: Maynard Architects, images: Peter Bennetts

About the Author
Bridget Borgobello Bridget is an experienced freelance writer, presenter and performer with a keen eye for innovative design and a passion for green technology. Australian born, Bridget currently resides in Rome and when not scribbling for Gizmag, she spends her time developing new web series content and independent cinema. All articles by Bridget Borgobello

"Hill House is an urban family home in Melbourne that appears as if it is riding a wave of grass"

'Appears' is the operative word. I read on another site (treehuger.com I believe) that it's actually a version of astroturf—the architect actually acknowledges it if fact—which is, I don't know, kinda weird.


Just what I want in my neighborhood. A big black box.



ugh. How awful.


As a Melburnian, I applaud architects who try something new instead of giving us more beige boxes or yet another neo-vernacular pastiche -- but this is an example of an architect lacking a sense of style or practicality getting free reign. The interior has some interesting quirks, but the exterior is plain ugly. Situating a bedroom in a black box on the roof is dreadful in terms of passive heating/cooling, given our climate. Furthermore, the use of synthetic "mog" grass is so environmentally and aesthetically dreadful, Andrew Maynard should have his license as an architect revoked. Had the project used natural turf, organic curves, and been more modest in proportions to fit with the size of the block, I'd not be quite so critical, but as it stands, it's an utter mess. I pity the residents and neighbours, and can only hope the architect deservedly suffers from living in one of his own monstrosities.


Guy's, positive criticism is important. And feedback helps the designer/s. But lets try not be so 'harsh'. Lets give credit to desiners trying something new and pushing the away from the conventional. Neill

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