Empty Space Implicit: Single-Family Home near Sydney
Architekten: Andrew Power, Melbourne
Location: 11 Hope Street, Red Head, New South Wales (AU)
In the Australian state of New South Wales, the perpetually mild climate has led to the development of a characteristic house architecture with a more intense relationship to the outdoors than is usual in Central Europe. The home planned by Andrew Power for a retired couple in Redhead, located around 50 km north of Sydney, continues this tradition.
The construction of wood and steel framing is divided into three sections: the large living room in the middle, and to either side a suite with a bedroom and bathroom for the two clients and their guests respectively. The master bedroom and its accompanying bathroom are connected via a hall that is covered, yet open on both sides. The transition between the living room and the guest suite is formed by an open courtyard and a narrow verandah on the southeast side.
According to the architect’s wishes, the tripartite division of the spatial program will allow breaks in the residents’ daily routine, encouraging them to think about things. As Power himself puts it, “The sudden awareness of being between two moments can interrupt action. We might remember something we need to do, or be reminded of something important. This is the purpose of these empty rooms.”
In contrast, the three areas of the house are closely connected by means of the angles of view. The doors, which are arranged transversely to the building, are precisely aligned with each other. Indeed, the arrangement of the supports follows a uniform grid pattern. The main supporting structure of the house is made of wood. Only in the hall, where large distances had to be spanned, did Power resort to steel profiles. The façades are clad with fibre-cement plates and wood; the interior walls are covered with white-painted wood and gypsum.
For the drainage of the low, hipped roofs, Power made use of a rather informal solution: an ordinary PVC downspout was softened with hot water and then moulded into the correct curve.
The simplicity of the home’s exterior makes the extravagance of its master bathroom even more surprising. The shower and toilet areas feature flooring of red marble, which continues to hip height on the wall of the shower. The shower fixtures have been set before a beige-coloured square of wall like a picture in a frame. According to the architect’s wishes, all the fittings - shower, toilet seat, vanity and mirrored cabinet - should have their own anatomy, as do the various organs in a body. Their diversity of colour and materials asserts itself as simplicity meets retro design. To further emphasize the relationship to different ways of living, the objects have been grouped into strictly symmetrical ensembles.