Sky High: Edwards Moore’s Lightbox House, Melbourne

Against all the odds, a single story terrace house hidden amidst a concrete jungle has been transformed into a cavernous light well beneath an enormous skylight.

Melbourne based studio, Edwards Moore, is founded on a belief in architecture as a global resource and built on a system that incorporates nature and the environmental needs of the client into their architectural design. When faced with the challenge at hand, their innovative and creative restructuring provided simple solutions with unexpected twists, exceeding the expectations of such a limited space.

The original house, flanked by a three story wall, was dwarfed by its peculiar surroundings. Recognizing the darkening dangers of simply adding further stories to create height, they had to reimagine the concept of level flooring to invite maximum light inside. Given the circumstances, the only way to do this was by drawing light inside from the top down. By using polycarbonate roofing, a perforated steel floor/ceiling and a massive pivot window, they managed to achieve just that.

The roof acts as an all-encompassing skylight, washing natural light throughout the upstairs living space, downstairs to the lower level, and gently cascading through the perforated steel flooring. This teams up with the pivot window, conveniently placed on the Southern wall for optimum sunshine and a welcome connection with the outside world. With views spreading out over neighboring rooftops and leafy streets, this window acts as the central living space of the house. With the bedrooms kept in the lower level, this inverse layout creates the illusion of a studio or loft apartment, further modernizing the space.

The perforated steel floor works a lot like magic. With two-tone ability, it reacts to the sunlight pouring in from above, allowing a plentiful glow to wash beneath it during the day, and turning to a gentle opaque at night. Further obscuring the concept of boundaries, this ceiling / floor creates both visibility, transparency and privacy, reiterating that this is both a home and a conceptual design. It invites the eye of the visitor to the upper level, and the open slatted stairwell leads them to the skylight roof and window above, causing a natural fluidity throughout the space.

The greatest achievement here is the overwhelming sense of openness in spite of the tight space. The ground-floor living space runs the full width of the building, and doorways to the two bedrooms reach from floor to ceiling. The stairway sculpts a gentle curve along one wall, with a single, sleek handrail. From here, the floor opens onto a neat, contemporary kitchen and dining space, where the change in level provides opportunities for concealed storage as well as several seating spots throughout, creating a sociable and familial environment that is both functional and aesthetically invigorating.

Challenging preconceptions of terraced houses and architectural limitations, Edwards Moore have reconsidered the concept of home as a series of connected spaces that spread out from one central position, following the flow of natural light. It’s a house that feels much larger than it is, fills with more light than previously imaginable, and sets the scene for a modern lifestyle to match the inner urban locale.

Fraser Marsden photography