Design Team: Philip Stejskal, Yang Yang Lee, Claire Holmes
Text description provided by the architects. The design grew from the client’s desire to ‘re-set’ each time he returned from work. He would arrive by car straight from the airport, without the time to adequately slot back into society. Our client was a single FIFO worker at the start of the project, who wanted a laid-back and robust sanctuary back home. He would arrive by car from the airport after a month off-shore and wanted the house to be instrumental in readjusting his mindset back into an on-shore, city-based existence for the ensuing month. The home needed to allow a gradual adjustment. Nothing too abrupt. Connection with Fremantle, but also plenty of privacy and dimly lit space to enjoy solitude. A place that was gentle on the senses, yet also engaging. Together with the client, we devised an entrance sequence to perform the initial reset.
From the garage, entry is via a back gate, which provides access to a protected porch with lush potted vegetation. From here a solid front door with a high light window. Pass through this into a narrow space with brick floor and walls, dark stained plywood cabinetry and a pond visible through a frameless glass door. A compressive and contemplative space. A right turn leads into a circular space with a low ceiling: the library, which doubles as circulation nexus. From here go straight ahead into the living room; turn right for the spiral stairwell; left for the kitchen; or hook right for the toilet. A place to re-orientate and also to remember. The final stop before passing through deep thresholds to parts of the house where the local living can begin.
The kitchen, still dimly lit and cross-ventilated through louvers from the pond, is a galley and becomes a built-in dining booth at the northern end. The dining room shares a single story volume with the kitchen, which gives way to a double height volume passing East towards the living room. The living room is where the solitude of the ground floor encounters the cheer of a brighter and more outward looking the first floor, via a double height volume. This transition is less gradual in the spiral staircase, where black-stained treads switch to lime-washed ones just below the first-floor landing. Lime-washed timbers and white walls predominate on the first floor, which is brightened by many windows and a double-glazed skylight over the corridor.
Doors are frameless and skirting boards integrated. The focus is downwards and outwards. To the North, a full-width operable lattice screen provides sun protection and privacy for both levels of the house. The screen is made of Hardie Lattice, an economical off-the-shelf product appropriated to painted Duragal frames on simple pin hinges and rod stays. They, along with abundant quantities of face brick, painted concrete floors, integrated glazed brick splashbacks and plywood lend the home a rudimentary and relaxed feel. The client wanted to kick off his shoes, walk in off the beach, have his friends over without worrying too much. The surfaces have been designed with this in mind, as robust and hardy finishes.