Tuesday 04 Sep 2012
The brief required a house suitable for a family of four and their guests on a 250 m2 site. The parents frequently work from home and the family like to entertain. They wanted to make the best possible use of the small site and to provide many options for living and working on different levels. They also hoped for an element of fun and fantasy.
The ground floor is essentially a transparent platform, which engages with the surroundings. Visually, nature is welcomed in. The space is ordered by a series of columns and defined by solid walls only where necessary. Glass plays along, around and above the solid elements while large sliding and pivoting glass doors open up to outside.
The basement level is conceived as a watery grotto. The sandstone is carved away to create space. Rather than remove the material or cover it up as is often done, in places it is left to invade the space. This connects in an intimate way the house to the very essence of Sydney - its sandstone base. Water occurs at various levels - a pool, a shallow reflecting pool with a bridge and an outside bath. At times strong shafts of light penetrate the spaces, as through rock fissures in a cave. At other times when light levels are low strong colours help to create warmth and atmosphere.
The bedroom level, conceptually a protective cocoon, is a long linear box. It provides comfort and privacy with glimpses out through a variety of openings, with the option of one or two layers of curtains. The first is opaque, the second a translucent veil. The surface of the box is enlivened with series of curvilinear light scoops. These allow light in and offer selective views out, such as a view of the sky when lying in the bath.
At the roof level, conceived as a belvedere or lookout, a study opens onto a small deck. Here, at the end of the journey you are rewarded with a panoramic outlook over the ocean. A private sun-deck with built in timber seating and a fireplace provides a comfortable place to contemplate the ocean and the stars at night.
Chris Elliott Architects