MELBOURNE – Peeling, graffitied walls, wooden slats and mismatched green tiles mark the humble entrance to Knuckle House. Just behind this hodgepodge emerges Index Architecture’s a sleek contemporary addition to a shop-front dwelling in Melbourne, Australia. Knuckle House is on a long, narrow plot six times as long as it is wide. These site dimensions led the architects to make unusual choices to open the house to daylight in order to improve spatial quality and give the illusion of more space.
In a counterintuitive gesture the architects made the site even narrower in order to open one side of the house for window openings. While this made the house smaller in terms of physical dimensions, it makes it look bigger as daylight floods the interior. Windows are placed at unconventional heights throughout the house – below and above eye level – which suggests that they function primarily to provide daylight and not necessarily views.
The narrow path created by setting one side of the house back is covered with grey gravel, which extends the colour and rough texture of the concrete floor of the interior. This creates the impression that the floor extends beyond the walls of the house, which increases the illusion of space. White walls help to reflect daylight, further adding to the illusion of space.
The graphic inspiration of ‘knuckles’ give the house an overlapping visual language. Staggering is achieved in plan and is repeated in section and perspective as the house adapts to site constraints. Movement throughout the house is limited to a passageway on the boundary wall along which there are no doors. This gives the house a continuity which contrasts with its folding and staggering levels. As a result of the site constraints and the lack of views from windows, connection to the outdoors is limited to terraces which give break out views to the sky.
Plan – Level 0
Plan – Level 1