Resident architecture expert, David Hallett from Ask An Architect, gives us his opinion on the Torrens Park Modern Mansion from Episode 3, Season 4 of Grand Designs Australia.
Newly-built Australian homes are amongst the biggest in the world.
With an average floor area of almost 250 square metres, they typically accommodate a household of just over 2.5 people. Compare this with the thousands of homes built around the country during the 1940’s and 1950’s, many of which were half this size and housed twice as many people.
Denise and Richard’s Torrens Park home is well above average in terms of house size. At over 1,000 square metres in area, it’s around four times the size of most new homes!
Clearly this building is partly about numbers – how much house can fit on the land and how big can the rooms be? The number that everyone is interested in – how much it cost to build – remains a closely-guarded secret, but the Jones’s budget seems not to have constrained them.
What started out as a pool enclosure became a far grander project as the owners reflected on the renovation potential of their original home. Too small, too dated and too disconnected from the surrounding landscape, the old building was probably always on borrowed time. Their new house comprehensively addresses all of these shortcomings – it’s extravagantly large, technologically impressive and magnificently capitalizes on the expansive views of Adelaide below.
Speaking of capitalization, the owners admit that they have probably spent more money on this house than could be recovered any time soon. Over-capitalization was far from their minds, however as they added substantial cost by repeatedly modifying their architect’s design whilst the building work was in progress.
For people with more modest budgets, changing your mind during construction is a dangerous game. It’s surely the quickest way to lose control of the construction cost, but the Jones’s know what they want and can obviously bear the cost of adding some windows, excavating more hillside or re-locating the kitchen.
This is a big, bold building...structurally complex, spatially extensive and extremely expensive. As pool enclosures go, it’s a monument to its owners’ success and it certainly makes a statement.
I guess the statement it makes depends on your perspective.