Our clients had lived in their unremarkable 1980’s brick veneer house on an acre of land for eight years. They loved the land but hated the house. Positioned near the centre of the property, accessed by a steep, snaking driveway which rose up from the street, the house sat on a cut and fill “bench” and had no connection to the assets of the site. The house did not relate to anything – neither topography, nor mind, nor spirit.
The brief to design a contemporary family home was to reflect the clients’ love of mid-century modern architecture and to incorporate stone as a feature material. Demolition of the existing house was a given. They wanted to start again, but this time with a house that capitalised on the beauty of the site.
Our design began by using the existing cut and fill “bench”. On this bench we designed a curved podium for the house and set the main floor level 3.5 metres above. The curved form provides four main functions: 1. Northern solar access for the main living spaces; 2. Access to views across the front of the property; 3. Direct physical connection with the rear slope; 4. A rational radial grid for ease of construction. The house plan, a 91-degree arc, comprises 13 segments set on a radial grid, emphasized by an expressed steel skeleton and a garden wall along one of the radial grid lines to the origin point.
The centrally located entry, at the original floor level, is a double height space providing the transition to the main floor level via a timber stair that wraps around a lift shaft and skirts a solid stone shard that bisects the plan.
The kitchen/dining/living rooms open on one side to a northern rear deck and pool. The garden wall runs along the east edge of the deck to define and enclose the outdoor recreation space. Deep eaves control solar uptake. The southern aspect of this main living room provides views across the tree canopy to the neighbouring hills via a fully glazed, segmented, curved window wall.
The stone shard appears at one end of this space, incorporating the fireplace, countered by a predominantly black kitchen with cantilevered concrete bench at the other end.
Beyond this transparent, central space, the intriguing, curved hallways extend to the parent’s study and bed room to the east and the kid’s rumpus room and bed rooms to the west. The hallway walls are punctuated with vertical slot windows, that provide slices of sunlight and garden views along the journey.
This arced form sits on a bagged blockwork podium comprising a double garage, spare bedroom and a studio. The palette of timber, steel and stone reflect an earthiness. The stone shard breaks through the form extending beyond the entry to visually express the importance of this architectural element. It is the core from which east and west wings extend creating a house that is both a sculpture in the landscape and functional, family home.