The Mask House  OLINDA

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This house is on a steeply sloping block in Olinda in the Dandenong Ranges near Melbourne. On still mornings sliding windows and doors can be opened on the top storey, where the main living areas are, and it feels like you are in the treetops with the birds - and in fact you are! The experience is accentuated by the way the ground falls away steeply into a deep valley to the east.

 

The Kitchen is located at the north end of the rectangular house in order to take advantage of the warmth provided by winter sun which pours through tall windows. The heat is stored in the thermal mass of mud brick walls which rise through three stories around the stair. The Entry is at the top of the stair, and next to it is the Sitting room which focuses on a wood fire surrounded by shelves and eye-like windows.

 

Background heat is provided by a gas-fired hydronic system with radiant panels. All glass is double-glazed, even the huge pane in the stair!

 

In summer all windows are carefully shaded externally and there is good night ventilation to cool the thermal mass, resulting in comfortable internal temperatures during the day.

 

On the middle level there are bedrooms, a bathroom, a laundry, a home office and a consultation suite for an alternative health practitioner. A flight of garden steps leads down to a second entry on this level from the street access on the high west side of the block.

 

At the basement level is a guest bedroom and bathroom, and a store.

 

The exterior of the eye windows and fireplace is shaped architecturally to resemble a mask, giving the house its nickname. In general the house displays the architect's respect for pre-industrial indigenous architectures and artefacts, and is one of a number of projects to do this during the 1990's, such as the Manse, the Vesica extension, the Baluba extension, Red Vineyard house, the Cat Door extension and the Outback extension.