Cantala Avenue House by ME champions the capacity for modest residential architecture to significantly impact the way we live in Australia. Sited within an unremarkable yet incredibly familiar suburban context, this alteration and addition a ramshackle 1970s-era house offers its neighbourhood a welcoming communal space comprising a new brickwork entry sequence, planting and seating under a mature poinciana tree. The balance between public and private space has been skillfully navigated, with all the public zones of the home pushed to the street edge. The experience of the dwelling is expanded to encompass the street, demonstrating how design interventions can genuinely build community and neighbourhood.
Responding to its location on the Gold Coast, the house is a contemporary reinterpretation of the traditional beach shack - carefully avoiding replication, it is a playful and refreshing reinvention of this typology. It has civic respect, yet individualism. Standard or everyday materials and accessories, and the reuse of the existing structural systems reveal the architect’s masterful ability to create architecture where it might otherwise not exist.
Equal priority has been given to indoor and outdoor spaces, appropriately embracing the subtropical climate. Both the existing plan and the new addition are punctuated with planted courtyards to maximize natural light and ventilation, while minimizing heat from the harsh western sun.
The broader context of the world’s current challenges - the global pandemic, climate emergency and economic downturn - calls on us to reflect on what is truly important and what we essentially need to live well. Cantala Avenue House is an alteration and addition that celebrates a simple life. Architect Matthew Eagle has solved ordinary design problems in an extraordinary way, reconsidered the suburban status quo and pushed boundaries, literally and figuratively, all within a reasonable budget.
The existing dwelling is extruded to the east and north establishing a private north facing courtyard and reengaging the public components of the dwelling with the street and wider neighbourhood. Planted courtyards permeate the plan providing access to light, ventilation and nature.