Trisha Croaker May 27, 2012
Keen for ‘‘a tactile house’’ ... the clients’ emphasis was on gardenscape. Photo: Willem Rethmeier.
A client's brief to their architect can range from a simple set of evocative words from the heart to a single-spaced, double-sided, three-page A4 dot-pointed wish-list catalogued from A to Z.
When first compiled several years ago, the brief for a newly-completed home in Bellevue Hill sat somewhere in between. Like many, it addressed functional requirements and wants - including the clients' desire for ''as much garden as possible''.
But it also contained statements revealing much more about their personalities and about the house's potential personality and design - including that ''the garden must be as important as the house''.
''The emphasis was all on gardenscape - the clients' ideas scrapbooks were full of rooms looking onto greenery,'' Steve Koolloos, of award-winning Sydney practice MCK, says.
With the clients keen to "keep the vibe" of the existing 1960s home designed by architect Henry Rossler, Koolloos worked to create a contemporary home that reflected its predecessor while engaging as much with its surrounding front and rear gardens as it did with panoramic city skyline views visible from all rooms facing west.
He used the original footprint, centrally located on site, and much of the original layout of living and dining rooms to the west and city views, with the kitchen to the rear.
However, while bedrooms and bathrooms in the original house were also at the rear and occupied valuable garden space, Koolloos ''flipped'' these areas up to maximise outdoor space.
''The decision was to create more liveable space in the backyard,'' he says.
''We took the house massing and flipped it over on top, positioning three bedrooms and two bathrooms upstairs. We moved the pool to the southern boundary to get sun and reduced its size and removed a camphor laurel and 30-foot conifers that were blocking all light in the back garden.''
Having opened the garden to light, Koolloos opened the house to the garden. He used a double-height void and floor-to-ceiling cedar framed glazing in the kitchen to open all rooms at the rear to the morning light, garden views and ventilation.
Two children's bedrooms were suspended in a timber box reaching into the greenery and providing undercover outdoor space off the kitchen.
With an 11-metre drop from back to base, a lower level was also added at the front of the house, providing a family room, additional bedroom and bathroom, and views across the front garden and central business district.
With the clients keen for a ''tactile house'', the use of materials is restrained and warm - tallowwood, cedar, sandstone, glass.
The garden, designed by Paradisus, feels awash with kaleidoscopic shades of green.
The end result? More than worthy of a scrapbook of its own.