(HOUSING – BUILT – TEA GARDENS)
This project explores a solid sculptural approach to composition, applied to the Australian ‘house in the bush’.
The building is composed of a series of solid blade walls that deliberately and forcefully cut into the site yet are also carefully positioned to sit between the trees with the minimum number of trees removed from the site. The blade walls anchor the house to its site while creating frames for the near and distant views of the site and the landscape beyond. This approach is in deliberate contrast to the more common Australian approach of the framed house amongst the trees, or the notion of a house-on-stilts or treehouse. In response to the orientation and the slope of the site, the main living spaces have been raised into the canopy of the trees with the ancillary spaces and rainwater storage tank below. Even with the main living level raised, the building solidly and emphatically demarcates its place on the site creating a contrast between the feeling of an enclosed cave-like dwelling and the openness of a lighter-framed structure.
This house is a long-term retreat for a couple, their family and friends. Sitting securely in its site, it is a sanctuary of serenity and substance – from the heat, the cold, the bushfires, the city and the rest of the world.
The plan is split by a dramatic entry corridor and external staircase between two blue blade walls, separating the main section of the house from the guest wing for physical and psychological privacy. This cut through the solid form of the house creates a processional sense of entry – across a timber bridge from the north or leading up the stairs from the south, either way arriving at the glazed entry portal. In both directions the views have been carefully constructed between the existing trees on the site to the views beyond.
The design is an abstraction of the Miesian plan with rooms opening off a notional corridor along the northern edge. Instead of following a static, repetitive grid layout, the blade walls are skewed at 5 or 10 degrees from each other to create a more dynamic relationship between the internal spaces and the site. The north-south walls are solid blue structural concrete block while the east-west walls are generally glazed, orientating the rooms to the southern view of the ocean on one side and the northern sun on the other.
The joinery of the kitchen and bathrooms has been constructed from ‘Marblo’, a translucent resin material which allows light to filter through it. The bonding agent for the material conceals all joints, resulting in a composition that appears to be carved from one piece.
KITCHEN DESIGN SKETCHES
Bedrooms are generous but very contained with their own private balconies and unique outlook.
The bathing spaces are perhaps the most dramatic with the volumes compressed in width and extended in height with full height glass walls to the outside.
And the mirrors use the skewed geometry to deliberately play on the viewers perceptions.
The compression of space in these areas heightens the experience of the framed views of the trees outside and creates an illusion of bathing in the trees.
In contrast, the ground floor bathroom is cave-like under the main stair, with a glazed gap between the stair and walls allowing shafts of light to penetrate the space.
Glass blades were inserted between the concrete blocks of the garage wall, allowing light into and out of the space in an unconventional manner while maintaining security.
This is a house of beauty, magic and mystery for the future heritage of this family.
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