House on a Hill
Friday 10 May 2013

 

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The ‘House on a Hill’ is a direct response to its location, topography and urban context. The brief for this new, three level family house was on face value, relatively simple; to provide a relaxed, contemporary living environment which would take advantage of the views of the Yarra River parkland and Melbourne city skyline. The brief also called for a strong connection between the internal living spaces and outdoor garden areas. Achieving this in reality was far more complex. Beyond the principal view, the majority of the site was part buried, enclosed, and overlooked by neighbouring houses and flats, a challenging environment to create living areas with the requisite privacy, sense of space, and connection to garden spaces. The experience of the completed house is twofold.

The first experience is of elevation and uninterrupted space taking advantage of the dramatic view. The second by contrast, is the experience of enclosure, privacy and connectedness to the site and its outdoor spaces and garden. These dramatic contrasts underpin the design response. The arrangement of internal and external living spaces over the three levels combined with the design of the building structure, operable screens and landscape installations, all work together to create dramatic yet private and tranquil living spaces. A concrete structure was adopted for its expressive power and its ability to anchor the house to the site. The unique qualities of the concrete structure are expressed throughout the interior as integrated wall surfaces which run continuously through the length of the house. The expressive power of concrete also features in elements such as the cantilevered terraces, off-form concrete staircase and void spaces which link the various floors of the house.

In contrast, internal wall and floor lining and joinery elements are characterized by the extensive use of timber finishes. The resulting living areas embrace the external spaces, enhancing and extending these places of privacy and sanctuary into the dwelling. The personality and interests of the client are expressed in many elements within the house including a collection of artwork and furniture which has been featured in the room layouts. Built in joinery items and furniture are integral to the function of each room and are tailored to the specific requirements of the client. Special places have also been created for the display of objects collected over a lifetime and decorative textiles the client had collected during travel to Africa, Turkey and the Middle East have been adopted as patterns for the operable screens to the bedroom and study areas. The project adheres to the principles of environmental sustainability with sustainable and recycled materials used extensively. Equally important, a life cycle costing approach was taken to the selection of internal finishes, taking into account provenance, product life, maintenance and durability. The project was realized with the assistance of allied design professionals in engineering, landscape design and furniture and art selection.