On a wider than normal site, Garden House is built in an almost Tuscan part of Sydney. Established gardens surround gracious houses with generous verandahs, roof lines and materials. The house is sited to hug the sloping rear boundary, orienting to the northern sun and a new garden with established trees.
The house is a simple L‐shaped plan, both containing and extending into the stepping garden. An internal garden court is hidden in the depth of the plan, bridging between the floors and inverting the line of inside and outside. Governed by a height covenant, the roof parapet line is fixed and straight. The first floor houses the private spaces of the house, with a slightly compressed floor to ceiling height. These private spaces have precise and figured openings in the continuous brick façade.
The facade rests on the lightest of support systems, improbably hovering over the ground level. The underside of this looping facade tilts and lifts, admitting light and views to the ground floor public rooms, through clerestory glazing. The brick façade is given a fabric like quality through its pattern, texture and treatment. Using rolled and recycled bricks, two moves are introduced into the brick laying:
- tilting a full brick in or outside of the façade alignment
- introducing additional half bricks into the coursing in multiples of 1, 2 and 3 (A mixture of Flemish and English bonds)
Although test panels were used initially, these elements were introduced randomly by the bricklayers. The team laid the bricks to a string line and the head bricklayer moved behind them, tapping the bricks in or out with the handle end of his trowel.
Through these simple moves, an infinitely variable pattern emerges, resulting in a hand crafted, soft and complex veil of brickwork. The bricks were painted with a cement based paint without sand content. It acts like a light slurry, building up slightly unevenly over the textured brick face. This smooth whitewashing holds the pattern together, softening the edges and filling cavities, making a cohesive woven surface. The edges of shadows are slightly corrugated by the pattern while strong sunlight flickers cinematically on the surface through the day.