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Inspired by the powerful family ties of the clients and their connection to the environment, the Totoro House concept erases boundaries between living spaces and the garden. Designed by CplusC Architectural Workshop, this design was named after Studio Ghibli’s animated fantasy, My Neighbor Totoro, which explored the importance of such relationships more than three decades ago. To keep these bonds unbroken, the lounge, kitchen, and dining space are merged into one family zone that melts out into the garden. The outdoor space acts as an extension of the living room, including its own cooking area and seating, so that family life can flow freely and contentedly.
The exterior of this unique home design has a distinct space age appeal, synonymous with the futuristic thinking of late 1950’s architecture. An overhanging roof sweeps around the side of the house with a widely curved corner before soaring into the sky as a great angular projection.
The aerodynamic-like roof design shades a single-story build with interesting fenestration. Clerestory windows cut around the full perimeter, crowning walls of glass bifold doors and round feature windows.
At night, the effect is dramatised under warm glowing lights from inside and outside of the home.
The original house on this plot suffered disconnection with the rear garden because of the topography. A new extension was added to bridge the gap that hindered the homeowners, creating an easier transition to the outdoors via a fresh living space. Small patios were added to extend the usable area, like this shady spot with outdoor lounge chairs.
The new outdoor spaces were arranged with the privacy of both the homeowners and their neighbours in mind, ensuring all could continue to enjoy the environment in peace and seclusion with their families.
The roof overhang blurs the margin between indoor and outdoor living spaces, making exterior areas into partially roofed rooms.
The new home extension features a large round window that accepts a wonderfully framed view of the landscape into the living room.
The circular motif is repeated on the face of the building and in a second window behind the outdoor dining room. To achieve the decorative brass cladding with environmentally conscious practice in mind, careful calculations were made in order to cut from only two standardised sheets.
From the exterior, the round window designs are a porthole into the family’s close-knit lifestyle.
The threshold between the architecture and the garden was buffered with the help of a landscape designer. Native plants make soft borders around the patio and climbing plants are intended to lushly envelop the master bedroom facade over time.
Alongside the outdoor dining set, a high-end barbeque stands ready for a cookout underneath a shady pergola.
The new home layout has transformed the formerly gloomy living areas into a single light-filled open-plan space. This free-flowing concept granted the homeowners’ wish to be more united with their children.
The round window concept that frames the garden view was motivated by the traditional Japanese concept of Shakkei. Shakkei is the principle of including background landscape into the composition of a garden, or “borrowed scenery”. In this instance, the large porthole delivers a scene of tranquillity during the school day and a snapshot of fun family activities on evenings and weekends.
The curves of a wingback chair complements the circular window design.
With the glass doors at each side of the room retracted, there is a blissful through-breeze all day, as well as the fresh scents and calming sounds of nature.
The lounge furniture rests on a welcoming white living room rug, providing plush comfort from the hard, tiled living room floor.
The kitchen is visually separated from the lounge by a change in floor height, which allows the parents to oversee their children playing whilst they cook dinner.
Indoor plants are situated along the sills of clerestory windows to strengthen the link with the garden.
Steps climb the circular kitchen diner setting on both sides, facilitating easy movement around the main living space for multiple family members undertaking different tasks.
Fluted panels add modern texture to the wooden kitchen design.
In the bedroom, part of the round window was made operable to permit natural ventilation. The curved frame serves as a fun window seat for the children.
Two layers of blinds provide control over the level of light and privacy.
In the master bedroom, a pocket door slides away to reveal an ensuite shower space design.
Moving from the shower area, we come to a unique bathroom sink beneath a frameless vanity mirror. The walls of the ensuite bathroom are clad with vertical subway tiles, which makes the room appear taller.
All the original areas of the home have been upgraded to fit with the new extension, including the modern landscape design.
The new spaces have improved family life and fun.
Careful consideration has been given to the use of materials in the design of Totoro House, with many existing materials reused and repurposed to reduce waste.
This design ethos coincides with the sustainable lifestyle of the family.
Daily environmental impact has also been reduced by including an 8000L rainwater tank.
A 3kW photovoltaic system was also installed to power the home with solar.
The solar store powers exterior lights long into the night.
On the floor plan, we can see the relationship between the private bedroom quarters of the original house, the new open-plan living room extension, and the garden.
Here is an atypical house tour that does not use music to prop up the visuals, instead it embraces the natural sounds in the house’s setting.