Status: Completed 2006
On the functional level, the brief was to enlarge a house and to maximize the site potential. The owners required an extended family dwelling, with the ground floor for the parents and the upper two levels for their offspring. But the agenda goes beyond these requirements. On a deeper level, Steven Holl’s writing was appropriated as poetic beginning:
“Phenomenology, questions of perception, encourage us to experience architecture by walking through it, touching it, listening to it. ‘Seeing things’ requires slipping into a world below the everyday neurosis of the functioning world”
Dispensing with a wall at the front of the house, the garden is raised to eye level with a permeable fence. This immediately gives openess to the house, which is flanked by mature trees to form a sensual and tactile contrast to the severe lines of the building. The top floor is clad in modular curtain walling; its light and transparent surfaces float above the more solid masonry base, thereby reducing the mass of the house when seen from the road. In daylight, the sky and trees are mirrored in the surface of the glass, while at night the upper floors resemble a lantern. Windows come in a variety of configurations – long, low and horizontal – and focus attention on the foreground, on the pattern of stones of the texture of grass. Tall and narrow windows frame views of vertical bamboo groves in the middle distance, yet an overall coherence creates calmness and serenity.
It is the materiality and contrasting textures that become the memorable features, with a palette of heavily textured stone, richly grained timber, plan, plastered walls and cool reflective glass. Walking barefoot on timber floorboard, brushing one’s hand against a stone surface, or catching the reflection of trees in a smooth glass surface, the house is a series of sensory experiences.