The Roche House, at 4 Bedford Street, Deakin was designed by Robin Boyd in 1954 for local doctor Hilary Roche. It followed Boyd’s houses at 11 Tasmania Circle, Forrest (the Clark House) and 8 Monaro Crescent, Red Hill (the Fenner House).
The house is typical of the post-war Melbourne regional style of architecture, with its long unbroken roofline, widely projecting eaves and large areas of glass with regularly spaced timber mullions. These features serve to emphasise the horizontality of the design.
The house was designed in the early stages of the Grounds, Romberg and Boyd partnership. It is a good example of Boyd’s more economical designs from the early 1950s—a number of his suburban Melbourne houses from this period were also linear, single storey designs sited on narrow blocks. It provides an interesting contrast with his two other Canberra houses of the early 1950s—the Clark House and the Fenner House, both based on the idea of linked pavilions.
In 1955–56 Boyd designed the ‘Peninsula’ project house for Contemporary Homes Pty Ltd. The ‘Peninsula’ was an early example of the project house: an economical, semi-prefabricated design that could be erected in a few hours and could easily accommodate variations to the basic plan. Although the house at 4 Bedford Street pre-dates that ‘Peninsula’ design, there are some similarities.
The one bedroom house is of brick veneer construction with timber flooring throughout. Full length glazing above mostly continuous brickwork make up the east and west elevations. Timber mullions are aligned with the exposed rafters, which are doubled at the internal partitions. The continuous glazing on the east and west elevations has the effect of visually lightening the roof plane. The sill is set at a height which maximises cross ventilation, views and privacy. The wide eaves prevent western sun from penetrating the house.
The house is entered from a discrete porch on the western side. The entry is central to the simple, rectangular floor plan and half a level below the main floor of the house—this results in a high entry ceiling. The front door opens to a small entry hall and stair leading to the main floor.
To the north of the entry is the open plan living, dining and study area. To the south of the entry is the workroom and combined bedroom and dressing room. The circulation and service areas separate these spaces. Horizontal windows cut into the north and south walls at waist height, and are designed to offer glimpses of the landscape while the inhabitants of the house are seated.
The house is a delightful example of clever small design, with many of the original internal features intact.