House at Big Hill by Kerstin Thompson Architects
This house celebrates the shadow in the making of home. It continues kta’s interest in dark space, the heightened sense of intimacy and mystery for domestic life that this affords and the retreat it provides from the harsh Australian sun.
Triangular in plan its long side acts as retaining wall struck against the slope of the land. Adjacent to this are sides two and three, joined to provide a right angle, a corner. If this right angle contains the interior and defines a clear boundary between inside and out, the apexes instead breach this. Separated from the retaining wall by full height glazed breaks they reveal views of significant trees and distant headlands. At these acute ends, inside and outside become one.
Elsewhere windows are limited to fixed picture frames lined with timber and flush with the exterior or vertical slots,with louvresfor ventilation,appearing as shadows through black steel reveals. The expression of the reveal,also pursued in the return of blockwork walls, is critical to achieving a depth for shadow and an experience of mass. It creates the habitable niche and recallsthe Griffins’ Castlecrag buildings.
The clients’ desire for mass is also met through the use of concrete blocks and concrete floors. Timber highlights enrich what is essentially a brutalist palette. In combination with the blackness of the form ply ceiling they intensifythe colours of the adjacent bush and distant sea scapes .
The ceiling is the shadow under which shelter is given. A folded surface it follows the line of the roof. The roof shifts from forming a parapet to two sides andan overhang or eave to the north, confounding the roof or wall building debate.
Conversations with Phillip Goad about the project early in the design process uncovered an interest in the use of the platonic form amongst the Victorian moderns. Of theplatonics the triangle (albeit a right angle one)most productively aligned with the forces of the site.
Architects: Kerstin Thompson Architects
Location: Lorne, Victoria, Australia
Design Team: Kerstin Thompson, Lynn Chew, Laurence Dragomir, Julian Patterson, Sophie Herel, Michael Artemenko, Gemma Hohnen, Jacqui Alexander
Area: 240 sqm
Builder: KA & JA Wylie Pty Ltd
Structural Engineer: SEMF
Building Surveyor: Brian Sherwell& Associates
Cost Planner: Construction Planning & Economics Pty Ltd
Land Surveyor: David McLennan & Associates
Fire Protection: Community Safety Services Pty Ltd
Landscape: Otways Indigenous Landscape
Photographs: Trevor Mein