Speaking volumes

Living on a small site doesn't have to mean living in a small space
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View of the study

Open-plan living makes entertaining easy, and lets us spend increased quality time with our loved ones. It is also an ideal way to increase the sense of space in a small home.

This two-storey house is one of 18 waterfront homes overlooking Sydney's Hen and Chicken Bay, designed by Mirvac Projects' design arm, HPA.

Each lot is only 280m², however each four-bedroom house is approximately 310m² , including a double garage.

Design director Malcolm Sholl says strong spatial geometry can be achieved through open-plan living within the discipline of planes and blades.

The exterior of the house may be small in size, but it is big in its architectural statement.

Its cubist forms and strong lines are dramatic by day and night.

The upper balconies feature slots in the side and top, which let in light as well as contributing to the aesthetic.

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Exterior view of this home

"It's as though we've taken a cube and sliced bits out of it," says Sholl.

This concept is evident throughout. The layout allows for dramatic river views from several vantage points, both inside and out. As guests walk in the front door they are able to see straight through the living area to the water beyond. Glazed walls encourage glimpses of the view, increasing the sense of space.

Balconies and terraces offer sweeping water vistas, but remain private and enclosed thanks to the use of steps and changes of levels. An internal courtyard with a pebbled water feature provides another private outdoor space with natural light and shelter from the wind.

All of the main living spaces are arranged around this courtyard, which is highly visible and conveniently accessed.

For example, the courtyard can be accessed from the dining area which, in turn, steps down into the formal living room. A built-in fireplace and shelving unit separates the two spaces.

"We haven't closed off one space from the other, but there is a subtle division between the two," says Sholl.

The kitchen and a casual living/dining area are also located around the internal courtyard. In keeping with the overall design, the kitchen features strong lines and high-quality surfaces.

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View of the living room

High ceilings, white planes and simple, yet sophisticated detailing are found throughout the house.

"By having generous ceiling and space standards we have let the volumes speak for themselves," says Sholl.

Each of the upstairs bedrooms feature a covered balcony and full height glazed window walls to maximise the view.

Sholl says the house is a good example of modern urban living.

"I think it shows that we can build contemporary houses on the waterfront that blend tastefully with the natural environment."

Aug 23, 2004

Credit list

Interior designer
Nikki Rosen, Tina Maydwell, HPA
Kitchen manufacturer
Window/door hardware
Oven, hob, microwave and dishwasher
Shower fittings, basin and bathroom taps
Newport by Fowler
Mirvac Constructions
Window/door joinery
Micos Windows
Ceramic/stone tiles from Ace Ceramics
Euroluce and Cosmoluce
Kitchen and bathroom cabinets
Timber veneer with 100% gloss polyurethane
Kitchen taps
Shower stall
Erina Glass
Hot water systems
Rheem instantaneous gas
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