New urban vision

With its bold, sculptural form, this new suburban house has a strong street presence. Its long, narrow shape also maximises a tight building site

The open stairway adds a strong graphic element ceiling, interior design, living room, room, table, gray
The open stairway adds a strong graphic element to the interior.

A scarcity of building sites can make it difficult to find a contemporary home in a preferred city location. Sometimes, the best solution is to simply start again by removing an existing house and building anew.

For the owners of this city property, Mal and Sue Kukas, it wasn't quite that straightforward the original house shared a party wall with the neighbours. The site was also very long and narrow, which made it all the more challenging to meet height-to-boundary restrictions.

Architect Adam Grund-mann of BG Architecture says a negotiated solution enabled the architectural team and the builder, Kukas Brothers, to look on it as a stand-alone greenfields site, rather than a half site.

"The solution involved changing the roof line on a neighbouring house, which had the added benefit of exposing a sea view from the second floor," Grundmann says. "It also meant a double garage and balcony could be built right to the boundary."

In keeping with the need to maximise the narrow site, and the desire for a contemporary architectural style, the new house was designed as a mainly square-edged, two-storey volume, with a robust, concrete-block construction.

"The front elevation needed to incorporate a double garage, which takes up a significant part of the street frontage," says Grundmann. "To help take the eye away from this, the first floor is a more articulated element, which cantilevers over the garage.

"Layering this timber-clad volume over the concrete-block wall helped determine the monumental form of the front of the house. The slot windows on the first floor contribute to the sculptural look they also work as a more discreet window for the master suite beyond."

A cantilevered first storey adds a sculptural elemnt architecture, building, condominium, estate, facade, home, house, property, real estate, residential area, black, blue
A cantilevered first storey adds a sculptural elemnt to the front facade.

The entrance creates a similarly strong visual presence, with a long, landscaped pathway leading to the front door. This north-south axis is visually reinforced by a long passageway within the house, and culminates in a 9m-long lap pool at the rear.

Grundmann says the interior reflects the priority given to providing northern light to all the living spaces.

"By providing a series of courtyards that cut into the site, we were able to create living areas that take full advantage of both the sun and the garden. The courtyard in the middle of the property also creates a break between the informal family living area and kitchen, and the second living space nearer the front door. Similarly, on the first floor, it creates a distinct separation between the master suite at the front of the house, and the children's bedrooms at the rear."

To add further interest, Grundmann opted to vary the flooring at ground level. While the main passageway features honed black granite tiles, the informal family area has a spotted gum timber floor and is elevated 150mm above the hallway.

"The change in level and flooring type visually breaks up the long axis," he says. "It also meant we could provide both a kitchen bench and a table with a single, 6m-long countertop. At the business end of the kitchen, the bench is 900mm high, while the other end of the benchtop is just 750mm high the ideal height for a table.

"The reconstituted stone benchtop effectively floats across the entrance to the family room, helping to visually tie together the different material elements."

Grundmann introduced an exfoliated granite surface a rough version of the honed granite flooring. This appears beneath the stairs, next to a fully glazed wall, where it forms a visual link with the outdoor paving. Polished concrete also features on a low wall that wraps around two sides of the family living area, forming a seating area and hearth.

The reconstituted stone benchtop doubles as a dining ceiling, countertop, estate, house, interior design, living room, property, real estate, gray
The reconstituted stone benchtop doubles as a dining table - a change in floor levels ensures it is the right height.

The darker, honed granite appears on the kitchen splashback. This wall was designed to be an unassuming backdrop to the lacquered, white joinery and for this reason there is no overhead cabinetry. Storage is provided beneath the benchtops, and in a separate butler's pantry.

Despite the dark kitchen wall, the interior is light and airy, thanks to extensive glazing, and an open mezzanine level above the stairwell. The glazing includes a low slot window in the family room.

"This was designed to control the view," says Grundmann. "It forces the eye down to the garden, rather than up to the house next door."

A large picture window beside the lap pool provides another attractive outlook the water laps right against the side of the house.

The master suite, on the second level, was designed to maximise the view of the sea. A freestanding wall behind the bed conceals a bank of wardrobes, yet ensures the room retains its spacious proportions. The contemporary look extends to the master ensuite, where a cantilevered basin and backlit mirror also enhance the sense of space. Green glass mosaics help reflect the light.

Credit list

Interior design
BG Architecture
Boral honed blocks; western red cedar shiplap boards; Weathertex rusticated smooth boards
Window and door joinery
Victorian ash from Nulite Windows
Audiovisual equipment
Bose Store
Granite from Kayone
Caroma Liano
Kitchen chairs
Hobnob sled base from Sebel
Kukas Brothers
Bathroom tapware
Caroma Liano
Bathroom wall tiles
National Tiles
Main contractor
Kukas Brothers
Bluescope Zincalume Klip Lock
Honed black granite from Kayone; spotted gum timber; Tuftmaster Beauvals carpet from Melbourne Carpet
Gyprock plasterboard; honed black granite
Home theatre furniture
Kitchen cabinetry
Cougar Cabinets
Cooker, rangehood, dishwasher and microwave
Bed linen
Bed, Bath and Table
Bathroom sink
Zero from RogerSeller
Bath tub
Caroma Marina

Story by: Trendsideas

06 Nov, 2007