Ruskin Street Townhouse, Elwood, Victoria

Designed by Marcus O'Reilly Architects, this 5 unit medium-density housing has been designed to contribute and improve the existing streetscape of a quiet tree lined street in Elwood, Victoria. Through careful selection of timber, standing seam metal and stone finishes the building relates to and complements the mature tree in front of the site.

Wood has been used extensively throughout the project both structurally and aesthetically. A dramatic open jointed spotted gum rainscreen to the front of the building glows like a lantern in the evening and is further animated through sliding timber and galvanized steel screens which help regulate the impact of the harsh afternoon sun to west facing windows. Spotted gum is also employed as decking to 10 north-facing balconies, balustrading and to angled sight screens to the south.

Given the tight nature of this medium density project, space constraints dictated that the driveway needed to double as a pedestrian entrance. Western red cedar cladding was chosen to give some civic presence to the driveway space and soften the presence of the garage doors as well as a counterpoint to both the inlaid stone on the driveway and dramatic yellow glass entry doors.

Structurally, the building was built exceptionally quickly with much of the time saving attributed to the timber frame design.

The interiors of the dwelling are also rich with timber. The cedar windows play against rock maple feature walls with concealed doors, engineered timber floors were chosen for their thermal stability and ebonised timber stairs and kitchen joinery add lovely dark accents to the material palette.

Are there any other environmental features?

High passive solar performance, low embodied energy materials, solar power and solar hot water, underground water tanks, versatile planning, use of spotted gum for solar shading, adaptable carspaces, and robust architecture make this the greenest building in Elwood (as determined by the City of Port Phillip)

Why did you choose wood?

Wood was chosen for its natural beauty, warmth and its ability to manipulate on site. Timber windows were selected not only for their look but also for their superior thermal performance and were critical in obtaining a six star energy rating.