Winding floating roof provides an enhanced experience of the natural environment

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From the architect:

A deep engagement with the house’s vast and hilly rural backdrop was the starting point for the design of the Lauriston House, with a design response that simultaneously sinks and leaps into the hilly landscape near Kyneton Victoria. The rows of olive trees geometrically aligned on a voluptuous landscape evoke a silent and unspoken tension. The house mimics this tension with the relationship of a meticulously detailed and structured frame against a seemingly effortless floating sinuous roof.

Inspiration for the material palette was taken from local materials and textures. Messmate wood cladding follows the twists of the expressive ceiling, complemented by a wide Messmate floor and French-patterned bluestone inspired by the colonial paths of Piper Street near Kyneton. The house respects and values ​​its environment, offering prospects for retirement and respite, an evocative place to gather.

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The concept of the project was to create a house that would offer an enhanced experience of the natural environment by interpreting the qualities of the surrounding landscape in the architectural plan and form.

An expansive winding roof, a clear structural rhythm, a bold overhang, recycled natural materials and a linear plan were the techniques used to realize this concept. These techniques combine to provide a recessive yet rich enclosure with a delicately controlled boundary with the external environment.

The native flora and the majestic gums of the site are opposed to structured olive groves and the proximity of these contrasting decorations evokes a feeling of tension. The house mimics the tension of its landscape with the relationship of a meticulously detailed structural frame and a seemingly floating sinuous roof.

The mostly glazed structural frame and cantilever of the building contribute to the appearance of the house lightly touching its site. Additionally, the cantilever emphasizes the natural fall of the site, creating living spaces that float above ground with stunning views of the heart of the property. Its orientation perpendicular to the existing house of the 1970s, creates a threshold on the site, which on arrival is akin to entering a two-sided walled garden and thus creating an isolated space in a substantial landscape.

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As well as being a private residence, this home has the potential to contribute to a growing paradigm of contemporary rural architecture, which expresses a unique Australian response to shelter.

An elegant linear plan form is employed to solve the program, with public and private spaces arranged on either side of an informal open-air entrance centrally located. The resolution of the program is reinforced by the sectional relation of the house to its location. To the east, the bedrooms are connected to the land and to a courtyard created with the existing house. To the west, the living spaces and the cantilever bridge over the landscape, offering a magnificent view of the hills, dams and olive groves.

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Passive design solutions, considered energy systems, rainwater catchment measures in the design, ensure that the house will provide a profitable and comfortable enclosure in the future.

Our client’s ambitious brief was that the house should allow a feeling of privacy with the outdoors, especially with the sunsets and the feeling of cohabiting with the abundant wildlife that surrounds them.

The design reinforces the feeling of connection with the surrounding landscape, sky and surroundings of most rooms in the house, thus affirming one with its sense of place among olive groves and gum trees. The brief also called for a pragmatic response to the challenge of all-season outdoor entertainment. The design responds by offering careful placement and design to protect and shelter from seasonal bugs, sun, rain and prevailing winds.

Lauriston House by Seeley Architects is an attendee at the 2017 Victorian Architecture Awards.

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