Art of architecture

This city terrace house is not only a showcase for contemporary art it also makes a strong design statement in its own right
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A view of the living area, wooden flooring, spot lights, artwork and ornaments, black leather sofas, wooden tables, kitchen and dining beyond.

Conformity is often the result of the strict building regulations that govern many new developments. But with a little lateral thinking it's possible to break the mould while still adhering to the rules.

This terrace house in a new subdivision could have mimicked its colonial-style neighbours, but architect David Hillam opted for a more contemporary language that better suited the owners.

"The local regulatory body obviously wished to create some consistency with the housing, hence the similar front elevations and identical pitch of the roofs," he says. "But, for this house, on a sloping site at the end of a cul-de-sac, I wanted to break away from the predictable straight-line front elevation and articulate the building a little more between its immediate neighbours."

Working within the confines of a tight, wedge-shaped site, Hillam designed a layered, square-edged elevation, and offset the front door to one side. The four-storey house is also aligned to address the view down the street in one direction, and out to the city on the other side.

Hillam says placing the door to one side of the house enabled the floor space to be maximised. It also provided for a three-storey void, which progressively expands into the house, allowing morning light to diffuse the interior.

"Creating a vertical space was a way to bring light into the middle of the house, and compensate for the closed-in sides," says Hillam.


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An exterior view of the homes in the subdivision.

Light also enters from the west-facing rear of the house, which is visually linked to the front. This axis defines the circulation space through the centre of the house.

Hillam says maintaining a good flow was essential, particularly as the house has a compact footprint.

"An open-plan living arrangement, with the kitchen at the centre, ensures all the spaces interact with each other," he says. "In addition, the stairs and bridges linking the two sides of each floor allow an interaction with other spaces as you move through the house."

The open layout was also a requirement of the owners, who were familiar with the architect's style and particularly liked spaces with voids over more than one floor.

"As the house rises over four levels, it was important to maintain a degree of communication between the floors," says one of the owners. "We also love the interplay of light within the space the voids create interesting shadows that change throughout the day."

The open design allows the stairs to form a distinctive sculptural element, which further appeals to the owners, who are passionate collectors of contemporary art.

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A view of the passage from the front soor, wooden flooring, artwork, spot lights, white walls, wooden furniture.

"Subtle changes in the colour palette define the shapes within the void," says Hillam.

The light tones also provide a gallery-style backdrop for the art a key consideration. Hillam ensured there is plenty of space for the collection, which the owners like to change and move around.

Even with the amount of wall space, Hillam provided large expanses of glazing and a seamless flow to the outdoors. The dining room opens to a terrace with a water feature, which can be glimpsed from many areas of the house.

Contemporary art is just as much a feature of the outdoor living area a wire sculpture by Simon Gilby is a focal point that punctuates one end of the main axis through the house.

To provide a degree of separation between the adults and younger family members, the master suite occupies a loft space on the top floor. This opens to both east- and west-facing terraces, and has views in both directions.

Other bedrooms and an informal living area are on the first floor. A basement, which opens to the rear, provides an additional bedroom, workshop, garage and laundry.

Oct 20, 2006

Credit list

Builder
Cardinal Constructions
Roofing
Colorbond from Bluescope Steel
Window and door hardware
Gainsborough from Parker in Black and Forest
Flooring
Tasmanian oak from Creative Wood Floors; Tuftmaster Safari sisal carpet from The Carpeting Centre
Wall painting in dining room
Air conditioning
Dynamic Air
Cabinets
Satin lacquer, manufactured by Giltedge Kitchens & Cabinets
Splashback
Ven Nival rectified tiles from Tiles Expo
Vanity top
Micro Bianco reconstituted stone
Taps
Ram Park
Bathroom tiles
Cercom Olmo vitrified tiles from Original Ceramics
Street sculpture
The Dogs and The Diver by Russell Sheridan
Window and door joinery
Frontline Windows
Blinds
Blinds By Derrick Sambrook
Paints
Dulux
Lighting
The Eagle Group
Speakers
Bose
Benchtops
Micro Bianco reconstituted stone and honed Nero Impala granite from Marble & Cement Works
Bathroom vanity
Satin lacquer, manufactured by Giltedge Kitchens & Cabinets
Basins
Scarabeo
Hot water system
Rinnai Infinity
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