A Playful Home Office
Words by Anthony Richardson
Personal and work life is getting blurred more-and-more each day, whether it's responding to emails after dinner or working a full day at home. Krisna Cheung Architects recognised the benefits of working from home, and designed a home office which equipped them with the serious-aspect of work but also playfulness for their children, which resulted in Cubby Office.
Completed in 2017, Cubby Office draws on previous projects designed by Krisna Cheung Architects to create a home-office specifically tailor to them. Walking down the laneway to the home-office, you are presented with a distinctive 2-storey form cladded in beautifully weathering timber-battens. The single-storey red-brick and garage on either side provide not only programmatic function, but gives the second-floor a natural step-in from the boundary. Walk through the home-office into the private courtyard, and suddenly you're met with an entirely different building. The private facade uses a translucent skin, which provides an abundance of natural light and passive climate control, but also a dramatic view when the sun goes down and the lights come on.
A two-storey build, the home-office combines work and play not only in the programmatic sense but through the design. It contains everything a home-office needs, including a studio space, storage, kitchen, toilet, shower and laundry on the ground floor which utilises every available nook and cranny. However it's the upper-level where this sense of playfulness comes into effect, and this is done through a perforated metal sheet flooring. A vital part of working from home is the connection with family, and through a simple gesture Krisna Cheung Architects achieves this. While they are downstairs working, their children are upstairs playing. However, the perforated metal allows them to not only monitor the children from below, but also to connect and communicate.
The perforated metal flooring isn't just there to make a visual statement and to keep an eye on the children, it also serves a third and fourth purpose. The studio space can be tight in a two-dimensional sense, so in order to make the space feel larger, Krisna Cheung Architects went three-dimensional by the use of the perforated metal giving a feeling of soaring high ceilings. When combined with the translucent skin and the extra-large window to the laneway, the perforated metal flooring also provides sustainability benefits. With so much natural light coming in from above, the flooring allows this light to make its way into the studio space, reducing the need to turn on the artificial lights. It helps to also moderate the temperature, where the hot air generate from below can be lifted out from above, or the cool air from above can fall down below.
The last playful use of program comes in the form of a "secret" deck above the garage. Cubby Office stands on what was once outdoor space, so the roof deck is a means to gain back some of that lost space. Ray and his family are able enjoy unobstructed views of the Melbourne's skyline, which can make for a magical New Years Eve experience. Cubby Office can show the beauty, both literally and conceptually, of creating a connection a between work and home life. Krisna Cheung Architects not only has a studio purely for work, not only additional play area for their children, not only additional outdoor space, but also something that allows them to live a more balanced life.