David Weir – An Experiment in Bespoke Small Builds
The Exploding! Shed House is the latest build by Architect David Weir. Working with a modest 95sqm and an established tree didn’t restrain the design or outcome. The result is an incredibly impressive layered home and studio that offers some special wherever you look from the ceilings, to the floor, from inside to out.
Highlights for me include: the large sliding windows which create a sense of one with the garden, the bathroom’s cheekiness and depth of space achieved by the omission of internal walls.
David managed to talk to us before the launch of the home to the public in early August, which was in conjuction with Open House Perth, Kim Pearson Interior Designer & Visual Stylist, Furniture by Mobilia, See D esign.
Can you give us a brief synopsis of the job?
This house is fun little project which looks at what we can do with a small house and an in-fill site. It’s set in the sub-divided backyard of a little cottage, and there’s a huge jacaranda tree almost in the middle of the block. So we were looking at ideas of site and connection to the place and the neighbourhood, and figuring out how to keep the tree and how to best use the tree, and we had to raise part of the floor to make sure we weren’t messing with its roots.
The house itself is 1 bed, 1 bath and a large studio space. It’s open and bright and colourful and textural, and most of it has been
finished inside by our client, who is this marvellous illustrator and craftsperson, so it is full of personality and skill. It’s a house which feels like it has been made, which is to say it isn’t glossy and sharp and finessed within in an inch of its life; it feels like it’s been on the site and in its laneway for years.
What are your favourite feature of the project?
My favourite feature in the house is probably the skylight, which bridges between the bathroom and the living area. The client wanted a bright orange bathroom, and it’s probably the only time I really had to fight one of her ideas; I said you can’t have a white bathroom but if we do it white we can do an orange skylight overhead, and its lovely, it washes orange through the bathroom when the sun is
overhead, and changes throughout the day.
What’s a great lesson learnt along your creative path?
If there’s a lesson learnt along the path of designing and building this house it’s that a client who understands the process of architecture and making buildings is worth their weight in gold. I love working with clients who know that creating something which
has never been done before takes effort and trust. A client who engages me for my skills and trusts me along the way is going to get the best architecture that I can make, and that isn’t to say it’s blind trust – a client needs to be educated and engaged and know why they should engage a particular architect that is right for them.
Can you list for us 5 resources across any media that you turn to regularly for creative inspiration?
5 resources for creative inspiration is a hard one…my favourite book on my office shelf is The Australian House Building Manual; it’s a basic instruction manual because sometimes there’s no need to reinvent the wheel, and you should be able to design a brilliant
building with basic rules.
I’ve got a couple of great ‘project home brochures’ from the 60s which I thumb through now and again, project homes from a time when builders and architects knew how to work together, and knew what their strengths were, and punters didn’t see a vast house as a necessity. Some of these project homes are amazing examples of how we should be living in Perth and in our climate, and the project homes we see now, well they are the antithesis for the most part.
Every now and then I will grab a magazine to see if someone else has managed to solve a particularly tricky problem in another project,
something which might be transferable to my design, but as a rule I don’t read journals or books about architecture. I’m constantly worried that I’ll see something and subconsciously replicate it in a design; I’d prefer to actively rearrange something old to make it unique than to catch myself copying something by accident. So I’ll wait til a client shows me something from a magazine and then say ‘oh yeah, we can do that but I will do it way cooler’. Having said that, I pretty much ban magazines clippings in the process of design…
That’s probably it in terms of resources…I don’t go to Pinterest and I don’t go to Dezeen looking for inspiration. I think inspiration mostly comes from passive observation, soaking up as many experiences and places and what have you as possible, and through active engagement with others, be they clients or collaborators or peers or rivals. We designed and built a summer venue on a rooftop a little while ago, and it wasn’t based on anything we’d seen, or anything in Perth or anywhere we had been; it was inspired by the place, and the desire to build something great, and by the amazing people that we worked with to get it done – artists and makers and architects and carpenters and musicians. That’s some good inspiration right there