Opportunity knocked for the founders of studioplusthree, an award-winning, Sydney–based architecture practice that had not yet been established when the commission for a family home fell into the founding team’s lap.
In what co-founder and director Simon Rochowski calls "something of a leap of faith," the clients asked the young architects to transform an existing dwelling into a family haven for entertaining and socializing—no easy feat given the challenging site conditions and dearth of outdoor space.
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"The biggest challenge with this project was the tight triangular site, and the project was developed largely in response to this condition," says Rochowski of the 2,131-square-foot abode, dubbed the Platform House. "Rather than seeing it as a problem, though, the house embraces this constraint, with the first-floor volume following this geometry, which also finds its way into details throughout the house, such as window reveals and bench seating."
To keep costs low, few changes were made to the existing structure beyond the removal of an "unsympathetic" addition to make room for an outdoor garden and deck. Inside, the ground floor was reconfigured to house four bedrooms and two baths, while the living spaces were moved to the new extension upstairs.
Rochowski continues: "The triangular site shapes not only the form of the house, but also the program—social living spaces are upstairs and the more private bedrooms are downstairs in an inversion of the typical domestic arrangement. This gives the first floor a beautiful sense of light, views, and horizon throughout the day."
Sheathed in charred cypress, the new extension delivers a degree of drama to the home with its pointed, cantilevered form that juts out to provide shelter to the deck below.
In contrast to the dark facade, the open-plan living spaces within are enveloped in warmth, thanks to the abundance of glazing that bathes the interior white walls and pale timber furnishings in sunlight along with views of the tree canopy. An elevated deck to the north extends the living space outdoors.
"The project really came out of a lot of influences from other areas of design and culture that both ourselves and the client were exposed to at that time, such as Katsura Imperial Villa in Kyoto, which involves framing particular views of landscape through architecture," Rochowski adds. "This also brought the feeling of simplicity, almost austerity, to the interior of the house, so that it serves as a backdrop or canvas for the light, greenery and views that surround it."
Builder/ General Contractor: Everest Construction
Structural Engineer: Cantilever Consulting Engineers
Landscape Design Company: Kiwi Green
Cabinetry Design/ Installation: Scribework (fabrication + installation)
Planner: PCN Consulting
Building Certifier: Peter Boyce