Part of the scenery

This house sits neatly on a limited footprint of dense, bush-clad land

Even with an expansive bush-clad site, there is often only a small area that can actually be built on. However, such limitations can lead to an inventive design that makes the most of the attractive outlook.

This house sits on a secluded site at the end of a verdant, tree-lined road. The owner asked architect Darren Jessop to design a clean-lined residence in the spirit of an earlier project that Jessop had created. The house had to connect to its setting, be architecturally interesting and work well on the relatively constrained build area on the sloping property.

The house has a fairly economical footprint made up of two connected blocks – essentially, a public wing and a bedroom wing, says Jessop.

“Within this simple, intersecting form, there are several architectural features that give the house a lively personality and ensure it responds well to the environment,” says the architect. “The public wing has a monopitch roof that rises towards the north – clerestory windows set below the roofline allow for maximum solar penetration from above the trees. In addition, this roof shape provides 4.5m ceilings for the kitchen, dining and lounge area.”

An outdoor room in this wing was created by taking a square bite out of its rectangular shape. In this way, the architect was able to introduce an outdoor living space without expanding the floorplate. The roof over the entire wing also shelters this cut-out space.

“Outdoor gas heaters and the overhanging roof ensure this area is a comfortable place to be all year round. Sliding glass doors pull back the corner of the living area to connect with the outdoor room,” says Jessop.

The bedroom wing is shaped like a long black box, and cantilevers out over a knoll at one end. While the roof on the public wing has a steep 10º incline, a 1º gradient on the roof of this wing is sufficient for water to run off. This area of the home contains the master suite, two other bedrooms, and a two-car garage at the approach to the residence.

The cantilevered master bedroom looks out to private bush views through a wall of glass. This bedroom also opens to the landscape.

“One enjoyable feature of this design is that due to the sloping land, the window-wall view of the scenery remains private until you are right at the front door. The approach to this side has only one low window and a band of clerestory glazing that excludes the curious gaze but lets in light from the south,” Jessop says.

The material palette is kept simple – the two intersecting boxes are built in the simple architectural vernacular of corrugated iron and glass for the public wing and dark-stained weatherboards and glass on the private wing. A concrete base structure underpins the design.

The solid base also helped address another important request from the owner – for a green, sustainable design. Besides being made from renewable resources, the concrete absorbs the warmth of the sun that penetrates the expanses of glazing. This heat is released overnight, passively warming the home. In-concrete water-pipe heating is an additional, relatively inexpensive heating source. Rainwater runoff is collected for drinking water and irrigation.

“The beauty of this house is its all-round sense of privacy, although it opens up completely to the environment on one side,” says Jessop. “The cut-out outdoor room allows the owner and his guests to feel they are part of the lush surroundings, even when they are safely indoors in inclement weather.”

Photography Jamie Cobeldick

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