CODA 5.0 : 2017 +

Over the past several years Kieran and I have used 4 words to help guide our decisions around work and communicate our core values – joyfulness, generosity, usefulness and stealthiness. We use these within our studio when we talk about an approach to design and we use these when we talk about how we want our practice to engage with others.

Moving from our “dining-table-practice” set-up when we left university 20 years ago to becoming a medium size practice doing public and community work has been a fantastic challenge and a spectacular learning experience. We have described this journey as moving from CODA 1.0 through to our current version 4.0!

We have grabbed every opportunity that presented itself and fought to find opportunities where none seemed to exist.  You could say we have been restless in our desire to keep moving forward and finding new avenues to work and create. In all of these years there has never been a moment where we have felt as though we have “made-it”, but we have been really grateful for all of our opportunities and the steep learning curve that comes from striking out on your own.

20 years has made us nostalgic, it’s made us thankful to be part of a studio that has attracted and been the beneficiary of so many fantastic minds and it has made us think carefully about what we want CODA 5.0 to look like.

We want to continue to work on projects that are complex, engaging and useful to many. We want to continue to develop an inclusive and diverse practice culture that gives every person in our studio the ability to develop to their full potential. To take these aspirations to the next level we decided we needed to be a different kind of practice.

So, CODA 5.0 looks very different. After 20 years of steady growth we are excited about the next chapter and our decision to merge with COX Architecture.  Kieran and I will take on roles as directors and all our staff will join us on the adventure.

By merging with COX Architecture, we have a real opportunity to get stuck into larger, and more complex work and to continue our interest in developing practice culture. The Perth studio of COX has the DNA of two significant West Australian firms, Howlett & Bailey and Forbes & Fitzhardinge Woodland in its make up – with an unprecedented portfolio of exemplary public work across the state and internationally. We have shared values and a shared passion for design. By becoming part of an international practice, we can truly engage in multi-faceted conversations about place and consider how architects can positively affect cities and places everywhere.

For 20 years Kieran and I have enjoyed working toward our shared vision of growing our practice and making an impact. We are excited about broadening this conversation and collaborating with our fellow Perth directors Steve, Greg, Mark, Bret, Matt and Fernando as well as other directors nationally.

Our core values: to be joyful, to be generous, to be useful and to be stealthy come with us. As of July 1, CODA will become COX – I guess you could argue that this is the ultimate stealthy move – we get to keep half the letters of our name!

CODA 1.0 : 1997 – 2002

Turning 20 has made us nostalgic! To celebrate, we’re sharing some of the highlights from our past two decades of practice. Here’s a peak into CODA 1.0, our formative years spent delivering family renos and small commercial commissions out of the Central Office of Design and Architecture – a collaborative practice consisting of us, a photographer, industrial designer, graphics and fashion. Basically, a creative collective resisting the pull of the eastern states!

Yin & Yang

CODA Directors, Emma Williamson and Kieran Wong, were separately interviewed for last weekend’s Yin&Yang article in The West. The result is an insightful (and quite funny!) peak into CODA and what drives us in our work.

Registration success for Akira

We’re very proud of our staff member, Akira Monaghan, who this week passed her Architectural Registration exam! A fantastic achievement, particularly given that she’s been working on a few special projects this year!

Boonooloo Road Grouped Housing Project, a review

The Architect Magazine

Autumn/Winter 2017

Woods: Reece Currey

Nestled within a quiet cul-de-sac on the outer-suburban fringe of the Darling Scarp is the Boonooloo Road Grouped Housing Project. This recently completed affordable housing project designed by CODA Studio provides a timely example of infill housing which is affordable, flexible and thoughtful.

The surrounding suburban fabric of Kalamunda hosts a series of by-the-numbers infill developments, built in response to zoning changes in recent years. The Boonooloo Road Grouped Housing Project is easily distinguished from typical cookie-cutter infill developments through its innovative courtyard-based planning and deft use of modest materials to craft spaces in which to dwell and delight. The project makes a strong statement of the potential for well designed and flexible housing which provides an exemplar for future affordable housing developments in WA.

CODA Studio has previously undertaken research and practice exploring housing which is responsive, sustainable and meaningful, including built works such as the Building for Diversity project in Northbridge. CODA Studio’s expertise in housing types is clearly evident through the articulation of the courtyard typology in this project. The Boonooloo Road Grouped Housing Project showcases the possibilities for affordable housing guided by clarity of design and a focused architectural response to brief, site and housing type.

The project is composed of four dwellings, each offering slightly different iterations of a courtyard house design. Adjoining units to the north and south sides of the lot are twinned and share many similarities in planning. Connection between the internal courtyard and the living and sleeping spaces is maintained throughout the project, despite the differences in each dwelling’s planning. The consistent material and formal language of the elevations and sensitive internal detailing tie the project together as a whole. A unity of approach to form, material and detailing anchors the project, whilst the four dwellings subtly explore differing approaches to the planning of courtyard housing.

Dark painted timber boards sheath the white textured external walls, constructed of structurally insulated panels. The dark timber cladding provides a framing device which delineates the form along the external parapets and internal street. Interplay between the white external form of the building and the timber cladding defines the external expression of the project. Contrasting in colour, their interaction provides moments of architectonic play most notable at the boundary between the internal street and the courtyards of the southern units; it is here that the lightly-framed timber cladding dances away from the face of the building. Supported by a modest column, this move creates a triangular aperture, the interior of which is painted bright yellow. The movement marks the threshold – a striking example of how modest materials can be skilfully manipulated to create moments of pure delight.

At the gated entry to the courtyards of each of the southern dwellings, the timber boards traverse to the ground; the lightly-framed cladding separating from the primary form of the building to neatly frame the entry. The two southern courtyards form an expanded threshold between the ‘street’ and internal living spaces. Mediating between the social space of the internal street and sheltered spaces of the interior, the courtyards create a privacy buffer whilst allowing the internal spaces to maintain a strong connection to the exterior. Courtyards located within each dwelling provide a north aspect to the attached main living areas, with the courtyards of the twinned units to the south being particularly generous in size. From these courtyards the garages are accessible, containing large rainwater tanks which further enhance the sustainable credentials of the project. Lining the boundary to the courtyards is a bespoke lapped timber fence imbued with charm, which will undoubtedly lead to good neighbourly relations.

Accessed from the courtyard, the brightly painted teal front door of unit 4 leads into the bright, open main living area. Immediately visible is a high window, allowing soft light from the south to enter as the ceiling is carved away to form a raking bulkhead. Negative details at the junctions of the intersecting planes further define the element creating a crafted, atmospheric moment and establishing a resonant presence within the space. Throughout the project, modest materials and a restrained palette are utilised in a thoughtful manner to enhance the internal spaces through a series of well-crafted details. The white-painted brick of the main living area  provides texture to the walls, further augmented by the occasional protruding clinker brick. The interior window reveals are lined with plywood, obscuring the edge of the aluminium window frames and providing a robust yet articulate detail. Plywood skirting boards also provide a clean and resilient edge throughout the home. White paint mutes the natural finish of the skirting in the main living area, harmonising with the painted brick walls.

In each unit the central courtyard forms a pivot around which the spatial planning is generated. The primary living area maintains a strong connection to the courtyard via floor-to-ceiling glazing, shaded by the overhanging roof. A circulation spine leading to the bedrooms and bathrooms clings to the edge of the courtyard. Within this space, generous glazing ensures ample light, ventilation and visual connection between interior and exterior. Windows along the spine afford views across the courtyard to the playful movement of the yellow triangular aperture of the timber cladding, and on towards the internal street and the main living space. The sense of connection between all of these elements is present throughout, transmitted though the lens of the internal courtyard. Separating the bedrooms and bathrooms from the courtyard, the circulation spines of Units 3 and 4 are generous enough in size to be adaptable to the needs of residents.

CODA Studio’s expertise in developing housing typologies which are innovative and flexible is further evident in the provision of capped-off services in the second living space. By infilling a dividing wall, a four bedroom house converts into a three bedroom dwelling with an attached 1 x 1 unit. This inbuilt flexibility allows the housing in the project to respond to various potential living arrangements, with the opportunity for occupancy of the site to be built over time. Diversification of dwelling types within the project in the future has the potential to further develop spatial living arrangements, in which the internal courtyard will remain the hinge. From the open, communal spaces of the internal street and courtyards, to the sheltered, restful spaces of the sleeping quarters, the spatial planning within the project creates gradients of privacy, allowing occupants to dwell as they desire throughout the day.

The Boonooloo Road Grouped Housing Project’s thoughtful planning, and modest, yet sensitively articulated spaces are the result of an approach to affordable housing design which is both innovative and articulate. The project constitutes a considered exploration of the courtyard typology and the possibilities for infill housing which is flexible, sustainable and delightful.

School treats kids as adults

The architecture of a new campus inspires learning

The West Australian

Saturday 20th May, 2017

Words: William Yeoman

You mightn’t think so sometimes, but the old saying still stands: treat kids like adults and they’ll behave like adults. This philosophy is evident in every aspect of CODA Studio and Broderick Architects’ unique joint venture, the new Bunbury Catholic College Mercy Campus in Australind.

Bunbury Catholic College Mercy Campus is just one of the many outstanding projects featured in this year’s WA Architecture Awards’ Educational category. Built by Smith Constructions, the $20 million co-educational college for Year 7  – 12 students aims to demonstrate, according to architects’ award citation, ‘that it’s possible to build educational spaces that achieve both the civic presence they deserve, and provide intimate student-scaled experiences.’

With features such as ‘dynamic internal streets’ which have been created to provide ‘ample opportunity to pause and connect’ and ‘moments of delight as brick walls graciously curve and whimsical patterns are created through a deliberate hit and miss pattern’ the architects believe the project ‘reveals the positive impact of joyful and considered school design on both the children and community that it serves.’

Eamon Broderick, of West Leederville-based Broderick Architects, says his firm specialises in schools; Fremantle-based CODA Studio specialises in urban design and interiors. ‘But we did everything together, all the way through,’ he says. ‘You don’t often get a chance to build a new school. More often, you’re adding to an existing school. So this was an exciting opportunity.’

He says that as a first build, not just of a new school but a new community, they wanted to design something that would last for ever. ‘Well, 100 years at least,’ he laughs. Thus the exteriors use ‘masonry’ brick, concrete but also ply – ‘as the primary material, giving permanence and a civic heart to the school.’ There are also sustainability elements such as light-reflecting windows and a bushland rehabilitation agreement.

Indeed, the idea of a civic building was central to the design. ‘As with other schools, the assumption was the broader community would engage with and borrow the spaces,’ Broderick says. ‘We also wanted something that was urban, not suburban, big but not spread out. The campus design is quite compact, mostly two storeys and with everything close together.

The result is a campus that encourages cross-disciplinary interaction. ‘So the science teacher might easily run into the English teacher and share ideas,’ Broderick says. And the students? ‘The exteriors are quite formal but the interiors are colourful and playful,’ he says.

‘For example, the library is known as the Learning Commons. It combines a traditional library, a research facility and a canteen. Kids can make their own tea or coffee, grab something to eat and take their computer or a book and really enjoy the space.’

Even the lecture theatre opens out into the foyer. ‘So if it’s cold or rainy outside you can come in here, eat your lunch and enjoy a performance by the school band or a short film or whatever. It’s quite civilised, it’s about treating kids as adults.’

He says the students have responded ‘very happily’ to the environment. ‘I guess good architecture is an example of how planning can influence behaviour.’ Which is also another example of good education and one that aligns with Bunbury Catholic College’s ‘commitment to the whole person’.

A week of awards for the Karratha Superclinic!

We are thrilled with the news that our Superclinic project in Karratha has received a commendation at last night’s Dulux Colour Awards! This facility provides allied health services for the town’s Indigenous population, fly-in-fly-out workers and families living remotely.

We used colour to strengthen the building’s connection with the surrounding landscape and to create an atmosphere of warmth and safety. Externally, the dramatic form of the hills is expressed in the fascia and decorative treatment of the tilt-up concrete facade. Internally, colour-blocking is used to temper the medical experience and act as an important wayfinding tool once inside the building.

This project provides an important piece of amenity for the community, which the local Indigenous people now refer to as their ‘Rainbow Home!’

This award caps of a successful week for the Superclinic. On Saturday, at a ceremony in Broome, the project received three MBA Bankwest Building Excellence Awards in the following categories: best commercial industrial building $6.5m – $20m; innovative use of building materials; and, excellence in recycling.