The function of habitations | Milkbottle

The function of habitations

Does this house make you happy? It’s a reasonable question to ask of owner and designer, David Luck, an architect whose practice seeks to position dwelling between earth and sky so that contemplation about self substitutes for concern about stuff. But this loner, who steers clear of the discourse that divides Melbourne architecture into clashing camps and who doesn’t do rooms as real estate agents understand them, cautiously steps over the inquiry. “Mmmm, it’s not a question that should be taken lightly,” he says, sitting at a long table at the east end of a long space on the ground floor of the so-called ‘Cloud Chamber’ that he calls office and home. “There are certain thinkers who talk about the everyday and the everyday is something that you can build a transcendental spirituality into – how you make your coffee, how you receive guests in your house, how you sleep – it’s not about shopping and stuff, this house is about connecting to the climate, the sky, the atmosphere…” and the spirit? “Well that’s a naughty thing to say,” he admonishes, taking hand delivery of mail from a postie who steers his bike from the bitumen of the narrow South Yarra street right into the architect’s meeting room – a shop-fronted space with a peeled back glass facade that prompts every second passer-by to ask ‘what is it mate?’ “Let’s substitute spirituality with a concern for the body. I’ve gone through a period of revision in the last ten years as to what the absolute centre of my architectural experience is and it’s my own body, the whole phenomenological thing about learning through your senses.”

“When I design I visualise bodies in the space, my own body and how it gets positioned, how it relates to the street…we’ve had some great dinner parties down here,” he says, thumping a Konstantin Gric meeting table that, when dragged upstairs for duty as a dining surface, frees the ground floor to become a garage. “I design for the bathing body, the eating body, the sleeping body – all the functions of habitation. I don’t design rooms with specific tags, we sleep everywhere in the house, we move around in the landscape, whatever your mood is, wherever you want to crash, to eat, to talk to people, you can, the electronics are set up to allow this.”

“Domestic architecture can be about wardrobe size but it can also be something more substantial,” he adds, laughing at the long-winded work back to the opening question. “Yes, this house does make me happy……….”.

The front of the city house Inside and outside runs into each other
left The front of the city house
right Inside and outside runs into each other
The copper kitchen is an important place in the house
The copper kitchen is an important place in the house
A small corner of the terrace A detail of the light
left A small corner of the terrace
right A detail of the light

Images: Earl Carter via Taverne Agency. Words: Annemarie Kiely. Architect David Luck

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