mcbride charles ryan: letterbox house
mcbride charles ryan: letterbox house mcbride charles ryan: letterbox house
nov 08, 2010

mcbride charles ryan: letterbox house

‘letterbox house’ by mcbride charles ryan all images courtesy mcbride charles ryan photographs © john gollings

‘letterbox house’ by australian firm mcbride charles ryan (robert mcbride, debbie ryan) is a shortlisted entry at this year’s world architecture festival for the completed house category. located in a modest beach suburb of blairgowrie, australia, the dwelling features a sculpturally formed facade that dynamically changes and grows in shapes and scale. clad with panels of multi-coloured wood, the design looks to be unfurling from a single letterbox on the northwest end of the house, and at the same time appears to have been carved away from other perspectives. the resulting veranda space becomes more of a stage rather than a simple outdoor area.

south west elevation

the surrounding neighbourhood is dominated with modest vacation houses and retirement homes. intrigued by the idea of mimicking a similar sense of modesty, the architects planned the dwelling to ”hide” behind a protruding mailbox. the northwest elevation, when looked at square on, does not offer much indication of the biggest feature of the house–the sculptural wall-veranda–but rewards those who investigate the house further by seemingly unveiling itself as one deviates from the straight approach.


wrapping and morphing to line the house with a generous deck on the southwest side of the house, the dwelling provides an ‘in-between zone’ with the single gesture of the wall. on the interior, the sculpted facade is revealed to be supported by a bright red spinal structure, running along the length of the house with shelving opportunities throughout. serving as a ‘programmed wall’, it is the primary structure to the wall-veranda outside.

facade/veranda detail

entrance way

interior hallway looking into the lounge

wall structure and shelving

living and dining space

bedroom on the upper level; portions of the wall-veranda spilling onto the deck space

floor plans (1) letterbox (2) service yard (3) garage (4) bedroom 1 (5) hall/lounge (6) bedroom 2 (7) courtyard (8) living/dining (9) deck (10) bathroom (11) bedroom 3 (12) laundry (13) rumpus (14) void (15) master bed

sections (1) letterbox (2) service yard (3) garage (4) bedroom 1 (5) hall/lounge (6) bedroom 2 (7) courtyard (8) living/dining (9) deck (10) bathroom (11) bedroom 3 (12) laundry (13) rumpus (14) void (15) master bed

northwest elevation (mailbox highlighted in the centre)

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