The Narrabeen House demonstrates a contrast between the back and front of the property in search of the ‘suburban-dream'
Narrabeen is a suburb with housing plots and street layouts characteristic of the ‘garden-suburb' ideals espoused by early 20th century Australian town planning. The Narrabeen House designed in 2009 sits in this historical context amongst the other two story family homes with each dutifully addressing a quiet, tree-lined street. It is a safe and familiar setting; no hint is given of the spectacular fresh water lagoon flowing to the ocean through each house's backyard.
The Narrabeen House plays with this dramatic contrast between the back and front of the property in search of the ‘suburban-dream'. The firm was deliberately conservative with how the house is presented to the public while inwardly pursuing ideas of oasis and retreat where the water experience could be used to maximum impact. This sets up two key planning strategies.
Firstly, a central courtyard is introduced as the principal organising element for the planning with all of the house's key shared spaces - living room, dining room, kitchen, study and pool - grouped around the courtyard to connect these spaces visually, and physically when the courtyard walls are opened up. The courtyard also has a significant environmental role bringing sun, light and air into the centre of the house.
Secondly, the planning is composed to deliberately isolate the occupant from the suburban surrounds to heighten the sense of oasis and privateness. This process begins at the street bringing visitors through a succession of exterior spaces that gradually compress and remove the street context through a composition of fences, full height screens and thresholds. The house also has an unusual sectional arrangement driven partly by the requirement to elevate the interior 1.2m above ground-level to safeguard against flooding but also by the desire to have open plan spaces with dual aspect - north for sun and south for views.