Tramway House by Vibe Design Group

August 11, 2012

Vibe Design Group designed the Tramway House for a family in Melbourne, Australia.


Description from the designers

The client’s approached us to design their ‘dream home’. Located in Beaumaris, the subject site offered a sense of locality with an appreciation of the bay through a perpendicular street. The client brief called for a family home to temporarily accommodate their children who were nearing adulthood, and visiting international guests. Preference was made for the master bedroom to be located on the lower story along with the primary living spaces.


Off-street parking was required for three vehicles, one of which was a race car that seldom required roadway access. The unusual shaped site triggered a dynamic design response, unique in both shape and form. Given the client’s involvement in motorsport, we were motivated to create a sense of movement, which resulted in a zinc-clad box appearing to have dropped in part to create a private entry with balcony over. A battened timber system was not only used to balance the façade, it also disguises the vehicle access, and partially screens the windows in the primary living space from passers by.


The splayed living area features the kitchen, laundry and scullery at the narrowed end, opening to the dining and lounge area at the other. A timber-lined wall defines the end of the space and features a fireplace and wall-mounted television, before wrapping the corner and leading to a crossroads in the floor plan layout. This point signifies the access point from the garage, staircase ascending to the upper story or sliding wall access into the sitting area/study and master bedroom. Integrated access doors into the cellar and powder room are also disguised in the horizontally lined messmate feature wall.

A flexible upper story layout accommodates the immediate needs of the client’s children, with an optional isolated ‘apartment style’ space for visiting guests. The irregular shaped spaces throughout create a fluidity and functionality, which could not have been achieved with a conventional rectangular format. Furthermore, it allowed for the north facing entertaining space, with swimming pool and landscaped area, to be fully maximised. As viewed from the rear, the lower story has a lightweight feel and provides all rooms an appreciation of the swimming pool and landscaped garden.

The upper story hovers above as though it were a floating sculpture. The zinc form is punched-in to give the guest bedroom a protected low-line window with direct line of sight to the swimming pool. We broke the shackles of conventionality and allowed the site’s inherent possibilities to guide the design process, which resulted in a dynamic solution. With sustainability always a primary consideration, optimum orientation combined with slab-on-ground construction and high-performing windows ensure year-round comfort for the occupants, with minimal mechanical assistance.

Design: Vibe Design Group

Photography: Robert Hamer