Designed by Adrian Iredale of Iredale Pedersen Hook Architects and Caroline Di Costa, Casa Mia is a home that reflects the character and creativity of its occupants along with a deliberate, often playful, engagement with its surroundings.
Occupying an oddly shaped corner site in a prominent position, this residence teasingly shapeshifts between the image of a castle and the mystery of a constructed ruin.
Casa Mia has recently received an Honorable Mention in the 2023 International Architecture Awards by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.
The house is constructed principally from brick, but the design challenges one’s expectations of this traditional building material throughout the project.
The architects describe the dual-sided face-brick skin that tightly wraps the site boundary as a “mask.”
The public face to the street conforms to boundary and height setbacks but is shifting and expressive at various points to mediate connection and privacy.
The inner, private surface is mysterious and protective, with laser-etched details embellishing individual spaces and glazed finishes punctuating the fluid edges between inside and out.
An interest in the tectonic, tactile and compositional potential of off-the-shelf materials results in a home full of “aesthetic explorations.”
Visually rich and spatially complex rooms, each with specific character and detail, are bound together by the recurring presence of brick.
Seemingly solid walls are dissolved with openings, apertures and screens to control levels of neighbourhood engagement.
In parts, hit-and-miss brickwork allows light, air and the sounds of the street to permeate the interior while negating privacy concerns in adjoining spaces.
Through occupation, the house animates the street.
An enclosed private courtyard is a buffer between living spaces and the boundary wall, but it can be opened to the street with operable timber screens.
An amber glass-brick column is like a beacon, signalling this point of neighbourly communion.
Ground-floor kitchen, dining and living areas strategically adjoin the neighbourhood pocket park to the site’s east.
This strategy allows the house to borrow the maintenance-free greenery of the park, whose boundary is slowly being blurred by a planted edge of colourful native creepers and demonstrates how the architects have manipulated design guidelines and required setbacks, rather than seeing them merely as restrictions.
Allowable areas of glazing and permeability of screening are optimized so that dog walkers and kids playing in the park intersect with the domestic life within the home.
Economically detailed doors and sliding panels provide adjustable levels of retreat while face-fixed timber battens, which double as door pulls, hint at an abstraction of the landscape within the interior.
The kitchen is wrapped in recycled jarrah, walls are clad with certified timber, and seating and library shelving provide soft, occupiable counterpoints to the more solid brick perimeter.
In the kids’ bedrooms on the first floor, skylights and walls painted in personalized colours cast vibrant and ephemeral hues onto the solidity of surrounding surfaces.
While the creators openly reference ideas and details found in the international work of their architectural heroes, there are also subtle allusions in the design to eminent local architects who likewise sought to reconfigure ordinary materials into something more memorable.
Such resourcefulness, imagined by the architect-owners and realized enthusiastically by the builder and trades, is evident where standard construction details are crafted into moments of ingenuity and intrigue.
The last room, a roof terrace open to the sky, provides a moment of release from the density and intensity of detail found at lower levels.
Between distant views of the Darling Scarp and the Indian Ocean, the final in a series of lively shifts occurs: public to private, natural to built, inside to outside, light to dark, subtle to overt, here to there.
Project: Casa Mia
Architects: iredale pedersen hook architects and Caroline Di Costa Architect
Lead Architects: Adrian Iredale and Caroline Di Costa
Client: Adrian Iredale and Caroline Di Costa
General Contractor: Limitless Building
Photographers: Robert Frith