Text description provided by the architects. The brief for the Fig Tree Pocket house requested a modern 2 storey family home, to be built on a sloping north facing bushland site, with easement lane access.
The house is organised into 2 zones in section, carport, arrival and sleeping upstairs and living, pool and courtyard downstairs. An internal 2 storey linear bamboo garden traversing the length of the house along the east-west axis creates a reference point within the plan. The garden also allows for the creation of 1 room deep planning on both levels to enhance cross ventilation and access to daylight.
On the upper level, arrival is via a semi enclosed entry garden which is adjacent to the 3 car carport. All 3 bedrooms on the upper level face due north. On axis with the entry is the main circulation stair with a 2 storey void which seperates the bedrooms from the childrens play room.
On the lower level a separate single storey kitchen pavilion with adjacent outdoor terrace extends out to form the western edge of the courtyard. Timber doors slide back into cavities to help blur the edge between kitchen and garden. A pantry and study nook are located directly adjacent to the kitchen for ease of access and supervision. The pool is organized to the eastern edge of the plan which contributes to the spatial enclosure of the court. The living/dining rooms, separate from the kitchen, are located as an extension of the courtyard in plan, with the space continuing through to the internal bamboo garden. Timber sliding doors either side of the living/dining room slide away to allow for heightened engagement with the garden/court to occur. A compact family room is located behind the living room. The courtyard on the lower level creates a place and space for family events to occur with direct viewing and interaction available from the living/dining room, kitchen and pool. The raised terrace addressing the court allows for a continuous seat for occupants and visitors to observe the landscape setting.
The house is anchored into the slope of the land in section. This practice of using earth against building walls for external thermal mass helps reduce heat loss in winter and maintains a steady cool indoor air temperature to the lower level during summer. This design feature reduces the need for extra mechanical cooling or heating. The cutting in of the house into the slope also contributes to the landscape nature of the dwelling.
The overhang of the upper level bedroom “box” is positioned to allow for the black slate tiles on the living room slab to heat up during winter with the diurnal lag releasing the embodied heat in the slab during the evening. In summer the slab is shaded. The internal 2 storey garden also facilitates enhanced cross ventilation via northerly breezes through the living room. In effect it acts like a chimney, drawing air through the room.