Text description provided by the architects. Design intent.
We wished to make a large and delicious house that responded to the surrounding landscape and seascape. Our client wanted a luxurious, low maintenance house “future proofed’ in terms of energy and services.
Vaucluse is close to Sydney Harbour’s entrance from the Pacific Ocean. This headland, once sparsely dotted with the grand villas, is now a typical suburb.
Design and views.
New balconies, walls and landscape protect the house and frame views. From the deep refuge of the dining terrace you can trace the Manly Ferry’s wake to Circular Quay. The kitchen table has a view of North Head and the open sea.
Another window frames a Pre-European view of bush and sandstone headland. These views orient you in the landscape and reveal weather patterns and other characteristics of place.
The existing building was large and plain, close to roads and neighbours and surrounded by a concrete apron.
Planning and landscape.
Floor area and bulk and have been reduced; private open space and landscaping increased. New landscape and reductions in scale settle the building in a varied streetscape.
Living spaces are on the first floor “piano nobile” where a double height terrace cuts deep into the building. Existing ground floor bedrooms have private green spaces each with a view of the harbour. Existing rooms and spaces have been re-formed into memorable new places.
Long life, loose fit, re-use and thermal delight are the project’s environmental principles. The original building’s embodied energy is retained as part of a new massive, passive solar environment. “Outsulation” over existing double and triple brick walls provides R-values of up to R 3.8. The bedroom level has a 9 star thermal comfort rating.
Deep overhangs protected glazing and permit winter sun onto the stone, brick and concrete. Hydronic heating, solar hot water and pool heating are controlled by a system which also monitors power and gas usage, heating and cooling levels and occupancy, and has capacity for a future PV installation. Water quality is ensured by careful attention to rainwater harvesting technology.
The house has a calm and substantial presence sympathetic to the many European modernist houses nearby.