LocationTweed Heads, Australia
Project TeamBrian Donovan, Timothy Hill, Michael Hogg, Phil Hindmarsh, Martin Arroyo, Craig Channon
Town PlannersPlan It Consulting
CertifierBuild It Certification
Design Period1 year
Text description provided by the architects. A private, grassy plateau is emphasised as a walled garden set within the natural landscape, and includes the primary gathering space of the scheme. From this covered shelter, with its fire and cooking facilities, one has a composed view to the outside world, including the magnificent Coolamon trees. Outside the walled communal space are the various rooms, each with independent address and varying prospect, to allow independent occupation for family and friends.
Materials and colours are intended to merge with the natural vegetation as the new plantings become established over time, while the coloured ventilation casements register the use of the house.
Redescribing the site as an occupied landscape results in potent experiences. Manipulation of apparent boundaries results in a richer set of places, enclosures, views and experiences. The significant room in the scheme, the covered outdoor is central to this occupied landscape, and enjoys the full spectrum of qualities sustainable over the life of the building: the action of light, the reactivity to landscape and climate, the sense of defended territory, the elaboration of openings, etc. These subliminal associations combined with the pleasures of cooking and bathing outdoors provides a genuine place for communal interactions.
Public and Cultural Benefits
A discrete house allows landscape to dominate the public realm. The walled garden orders the entire site, including the set of small scale buildings and gardens to its perimeter. The resulting streetscape will be (once plantings mature) characterised by 3 landscapes – a grassed bank for cars, a rendered wall tailored as a street side seat for residents, and a dense native garden. The pre-existing boulder retaining walls to the southern, park side characterize both the house and park and are left essentially unchanged.
Relationship-Built form to context
Both site plan and built form respond to context. The dominant forms of the site are the mature Coolamon trees and the boulder retaining walls. New spaces are organized to maintain the primacy of the trees in the new composition, while the building section connects the interior volumes to the idiosyncratic landscapes to the north and south. The lower southern room steps over the boulder walls to make an elevated sleeping platform with park views.
Brief was for two families to be able to enjoy the setting with friends. Thus a hierarchy of private and public spaces are planned around the central court. Options to participate in the communal activities or retreat to private sub-spaces are provided for adults and children, both individually and as groups.
Integration of allied Disciplines
The exposed coastal site of loose sand over deep rock required construction of suspended slab and beams supported off deep screw pile foundations. Narrow buildings sitting on the suspended slab required steel bracing walls to compensate for the open interior volumes.
Most of the building is utilitarian in finish. Floors are trowel finished concrete, walls and ceilings standard pb, joinery off-the-shelf polyurethane finished ply with exposed edges, cladding stained pine. All become a functional background to the timber framed windows and doors and painted ventilation flaps. This additional expenditure resonates as part of the daily use of the house.
Buildings are small scale and located around the significant landscape features to ensure the pre-existing qualities of the setting is maintained. Being narrow, interiors are easily ventilated. Frame and cladding is plantation pine. Stored water is reused.
Response – Client and user needs
The scheme includes a generous landscape to the street, ensuring the setting is enhanced through the re-development process, while residents can choose to participate in the public realm of the street when occupying the rendered block garden wall/seat.