Text description provided by the architects. Hidden in an affluent coastal suburb is 'Vodka Palace’ a luxurious concrete cave, tempered with natural timber finishes and primed for premium culinary, audio and visual pleasure. It is the result of a very strong collaborative process between client, architect, builder, sub-consultants, sub-contractors, and suppliers. The client is a close friend and a unique paradoxical individual. One part reclusive and one part party queen she wanted the seclusion and ethereal quality of a cave to escape into that satisfied all her needs without having to really go anywhere else, yet also at a moments notice she wanted to be able to invite the world in and entertain close friends and family in style.
The palace is designed functionally to be a chameleon allowing her to create different audio and visual lighting effects depending on the occasion and mood required. Externally the client wanted to feel like she was in the bush of her beloved second home the southwest region of Western Australia where she once owned and managed an iconic hotel and this was created for her by using native trees and shrubs representative of the region.
The choice of off-form concrete resonates with its coastal location by reflecting the strong brutalist forms of kiosks and public amenities typical to many local beaches and its grounding coolness warmed by timber finishes, a neutral color palette and a considered play of light create a moody mix, evoking a serene, Zen experience. To augment this ambiance the ancient Japanese technique of charring timber ‘Shou Sugi Ban’ was used to finish timber clad columns and timber privacy screens.
Located at the rear of the property is ‘The Caboose’, a small cabin designed to provide self-contained private accommodation for guests, overseas friends and family, as the moment requires. Purposefully it is designed to not address the main house and performs an additional function as a dark backdrop to the rear entertaining deck of the Palace. Via its massing, it helps to spatially create the rear courtyard and provides privacy from and obstructs view lines to adjacent rear properties thereby simplifying the outlook to accent the landscaping. Easily accessed via a secret path along the east side, guests can come and go without having to enter the main dwelling and thereby minimizing disturbance to the main occupant.
Situated on a narrow site with two-story structures either side close to the boundary, gaining access to natural light lent itself to the inclusion of light wells, one over the en-suite and the other over the stairwell, to siphon daylight into the middle interiors not benefiting from the north or south glazing. The spirit of this project was one of its greatest joys, all worked together harmoniously to manufacturer a resolution and it is this fact in which I take most satisfaction. Enduring relationships have been forged and I see the end result as not my own but the combined efforts and inspiration of everyone involved.