Passing the screen test

Part of the deal when we live close to one another in dense urban environments is that we pay consideration to our neighbours, and we hope for the same in return. These social contracts are reinforced by council planning regulations, which can go into great detail when the issue is privacy.

Many of our house designs need to respond to overlooking issues. Solutions vary, but we try to reframe overlooking views without taking the easy routes we see too often – the small frosted window set high on the wall, and the solid-walled penitentiary balcony. We might use a mix of window insets, outsets, fins, slats, and angles.

1314 Law Facade Close 684x1024, Michael Ellis Architects
Screens also offer an opportunity to give sculpt something that’s a little unexpected. Law Street, South Melbourne.

The “overlooking the neighbour’s yard” problem isn’t the only driver for screening devices. Sometimes they might boost the privacy of a home that faces the street, or they might help reduce the glare and heat of a harsh western sun.

Screens need to suit the specific situation, and that usually requires some deep thought. This can lead to innovative and unexpected solutions that elevate what was initially a problem into an opportunity that can help lift the appearance of the whole home.

We hope you enjoy this gallery of some recent examples from Michael Ellis Architects. Click the photos for captions and full size images.