In many ways, this is our first house. While we’ve worked on substantial reconstructions, we still haven’t provided the design intent for a fresh bungalow.
Much of the conceptual grounding for this house grows from the site, as this is an abnormal topography upon which to place a home. There is a 9-meter slope from the road down to the rear garden, and within the property are four distinct platforms of earth. While this creates dramatic options for siting, it also carries some liabilities. If the house stands two stories at Belmont Road, it appears as a colossus from the base of the garden. As we are not particularly interested in architectural gigantism, our intention throughout has been to refine a form of massing in which one large house might read as a smaller house sitting upon a podium.
We have long been interested in “perverse” architectural objects. By this, we mean those elements of a building that are, in some sense, out of place or over-the-top. Many of our favorite architects, including Joze Plecnik and Gunnar Asplund, worked intentionally with aberrant architectural components, refining their use until they appeared to stand at the edge of the normal. This house presented an opportunity for such an element, as visitors must pass through the private spaces to reach the public level, which occupies the bottom floor of the main house. In order to mitigate the strangeness of this situation, we designed a large and somewhat baroque stair that tumbles through the very center of the house, from front door to pool deck. This stair is broad enough to incorporate rooms at half-levels (in the manner of Loos) and to engage secondary “service” circulation and other unusual sectional conditions.
All images by Darren Soh/ Fullframephotos.