Cave House

Cave House


The clients’ brief was traditional in scope but vast in volume. Getting desirable sized outdoor spaces and good building orientation on a difficult triangular site was always going to be tricky. The idea was to treat the whole ground plane as a garden. This led to a re-exploration of the glass house typology – but with serious modifications. Firstly we had to contort the glazed box and then split the central core. Next, we decided to pull up and down the building fascia to exclude or include views and sunlight. Like a mesh the ceiling followed by bending and arching, enclosing the ground floor living spaces in a cave-like fashion. Unlike the single person archetype, this is a family home and a first floor bedroom zone was required. The idea was then to invert the ground floor; its conceptual opposite the courtyard house became the first floor. Not only was the dialogue between the two types of house experientially satisfying, it overcame the onerous planning restrictions of neighborhood overlooking and allowed natural light into the central core of the ground floor via skylights in the courtyard. When viewed from the private open space the building perches over the ground plane like a granite monolith – when viewed from the street the haunting image of a Sydney Nolan painting lends menace and disquiet to an otherwise complacent suburban setting.

Toorak, VIC | Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung and Bunurong Country

Australian Institute of Architects Victorian Chapter Awards 2006

Winner – Residential Architecture Award