Architecture as Portraiture

  • Tribe Studio is one of Sydney’s most inspiring boutique architecture firms that we have come across recently. With a humble ambition to deliver responsive, considerate and intelligent design that reflects both the clients and the homes context, founder Hannah Tribe prefers to define their designs as “non-figurative portraiture.”

     Do not be fooled by the conventional exterior shape of House Maher, located in the leafy suburb of Willoughby on Sydney’s north shore. With it its child-like outline of rectangle base, a triangle roof and a series of square windows, the home is a playful response derived from a brief to create a new house that celebrates family life.

    Standing in the place of a 1920s bungalow, House Maher is a commemoration and an exaggeration of its previous form, flattening and extruding the gable elevation. Recycled bricks from the site are an important aesthetic feature. Internally they create a textural contrast to the smooth white walls. Externally the unique pattern of brickwork is derived from a decorative feature of the demolished house, by creating an almost shimmering effect on the front façade that no longer appears flat.

    As the client has MS and is in a wheelchair, a specific brief was issued to create a home that didn’t look like a person with a disability lived there. To this end Tribe has subtley incorporated the client’s specific needs without having them define their home. Taking the idea of the house and almost like a Russian Babushka doll, they have created little house-like shaped spaces within the interior. Through such play on volume and light, interesting interior spaces are born with dramatic changes in ceiling heights, as well as pitched ceilings in unexpected places, and (gasp), even internal windows. Diverse views are framed through strategically placed openings of different heights and sizes and the shape of the windows give the exterior a contemporary appearance.

    Although House Maher may seem complex, the overall impression is its unassuming simplicity as a home for a family with a young boy and a dog.

    BY Charlotte McKid







    House Maher Internal Externam Diagrams | © Tribe Studio | Est Magazine

    PHOTOGRAPHY Katherine Lu | ILLUSTRATIONS Tribe Studio

2 Responses

  1. What a delightful home Tribe Studio has made. To me it appears well lit, with simple, but playful forms. Particularly like the use of soft materials and textures. Very Scandinavian. Love the Limed Oak flooring.

  2. I live not far from this house and love to walk past it. It sits beautifully amongst the Californian Bunglows on the street – such a lovely piece of architecture. If only everyone who built new houses in our area valued the skill a clever architect can bring to the design of their home …

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