Sitting below the heritage house “Hestock”, this design aims to be a foundation for this building by keeping low and utilising a very earthy and subdued palette of natural materials. The central conceptual idea was that the roof and walls form an extension to the river walls so that over time the house will become one with the river and thus not compete with Hestock.
Three distinct pavilions of copper break up the mass of the house. The use of strong angled stone walls on the river front combine with the pavilion roof forms to create an ever changing dynamic when the house is viewed by anyone travelling along the river. The sandstone base is contrasted with the light glazed first floor that provides a dark recessed appearance under the strong roof overhangs.
Also important was that the arrival to the house portrayed the old character of Hunters Hill – that of small scale stone buildings and quiet front yards. Thus, the house presents a single storey to guests with a simple copper awning and door to define the entry. A sliding timber gate and stone wall cut off the extension of the driveway so that a pedestrian precinct can be created; this also helps define a more intimate scale of space at arrival from the long access handle.
The house has been divided into public spaces, studies and parent suite on the entry level with children’s bedrooms, games room and guest suite on the ground floor. A large skylight positioned at the core of the house allows light and warmth to penetrate to the lower level and provides natural light to what is to be a wonderful gallery space. The stair and the gallery hall form part of a unique manner of house operation. Concealed doors allow the parent wing and private study spaces to be locked off when the parents are away – this allows the children and nanny to come and go throughout the stairwell without the client worrying about the main adult ground floor spaces. It was very important that this ability did not compromise the aesthetic quality of the house.
The house has been designed to provide very good natural ventilation and control of heat – whilst controlling the inevitable strong breezes that affect life on the river. High level operable windows allow continual ventilation when the low level doors and windows are shut to provide shelter from the wind. The BBQ terrace is enclosed by frameless glass to maximise comfort against the wind. Large roof overhangs add to the sense of shelter and sun control; which are augmented by the use of timber venetian blinds that control direct sunlight and glare from the river as the sun rises and sets.
A simple material palette of copper, sandstone, glass and natural timber provide the house with a timeless aesthetic that will weather into the environ that is Hunter Hill.