WITH the steady growth of Melbourne building has to extend into fringe areas but this can be done without altogether spoiling or denuding the land of its natural charm.
A bold move is being made in this direction with the Hillcrest subdivision of 80 house sites in Park Rd, Mitcham, which have been planned to provide interesting road and contour development so that houses will enjoy pleasant views and be in a natural rural setting.
The estate is about a mile from White Horse Rd along Mitcham Rd, then a short distance along Park Rd, Mitcham.
The designer of the project for Dome Constructions Pty. Ltd., Mr Alister Knox, refers to it as "paddock architecture" which he says "aims to reconcile encroachment into the rural belt with sympathy and unity so that whole hillsides and paddocks have architecture rather than isolated buildings."
With this estate individual planning is being applied for each house.
The problem of creating unity and character between the building is being obtained by panel construction based on 4 ft. modules and on constant or regular roof pitches.
This gives a traditional character to the buildings and variation in planning gives variety; at the same time giving the owners the sense of individuality while being members of a community.
THE criticism aimed at modern houses that they are strange or different when placed among older types of houses will not apply here because the houses will all be in their proper environment.
Generally the low-pitched roof which follows the line of the countryside, is being adopted for the houses.
Exposed deep oregon beams are used for the roofs and ceilings follow the roof pitch.
Roof timbers are extended to form wide eaves, patios and car ports.
Where the fall of the land makes split floor levels preferable this is done and the house built up is from a concrete floor slab.
This form of construction keeps the building close to the ground and has the effect of bringing the garden treatment into some of the rooms.
Each house is designed to fit in with the peculiarities of its site and is placed so that as many native trees and shrubs as possible are not disturbed.
Open wide fences are being used rather than paling fences on the side boundaries and there will no front fences. Tea-tree stick screens will be used where privacy is necessary.
Paths and driveways from the roadways to each house are formed and then finished with pink Lilydale toppings. This is more suitable than concrete for the rural setting and cheaper.
Building costs on the Mitcham project have been reduced by adopting a 4-ft. module and having all the timber frames fully constructed in a workshop.
These are brought to the job in proper order and fixed in position on the concrete floor slab in a few hours.
Roof timbers are also brought on the job prepared and ready to be placed in position immediately.
Where the site has been previously levelled, the concrete floor can be poured, the walls erected and the roof pitched and covered within five days.
A brick-veneer house can be locked up - lined throughout and ready for finishing in 10 to 12 working days.
The use of dressed oregon for the studs and rafters has been found to save much in labor costs. Further economy has been effected by using manufactured materials which fit in with the 4 ft. module.
By having the Stramit ceiling slabs lifted straight onto the roof it can be finished within another four hours.
One of the most interesting houses on the estate is built on a steep block with a good outlook, the plan Is illustrated left.
Entrance to the house is at ground level onto the side balcony from a rear terrace.
Full-length windows are featured in the rooms opening on to the balcony and sliding glass doors give access to the balcony from the dining-living room.
Sliding doors into the study have also saved floor space.
The kitchen has full length windows and an open serving bench to the dining area.
In the living room there is a gas space-heater flued through a drying cupboard in the kitchen.
The laundry has a hot water service heater, a linen cupboard, washing machine and trough along one wall.
Under the balcony there is a living terrace portion of which can be used as a carport. Including the balconies the house has an area of 13 squares.
It Is estimated that 12 months after the project is completed the newly planted eucalypts and native bushes and other trees will have covered the traces of the building work.