Ironically enough, the letter ‘C’ was central to the design of Curl Curl Residence: curves, compactness, and climactic conditions. In one final twist of fate, the architect chosen to undertake the job was none other than CplusC Architectural Workshop.
When CplusC was approached to create a two-bedroom home on Sydney’s northern beaches, they were confronted with that age-old architectural sum of material, time, space and cost-efficiency – all while needing to reconcile the tension between privacy and views.
In addition to the above, the client wanted a home that would last – something that should be at the heart of every architectural project, but a prerequisite that is increasingly falling by the wayside. Despite a construction program of just 24 weeks, CplusC conceived of an age-in-place strategy that would allow Curl Curl Residence decades of relevance.
The form of the building was to perform a feat of math and gymnastics, maximising the internal floor area without compromising external amenity. The result is a shape that is by turns straight and curved, its sculptural form staging plays of light and shadow throughout the day. This language of curves follows through to the interior, where door handles, deck shapes and balustrades were all chosen or shaped for their similar forms. Exposed roof beams and a custom-designed skylight work to bring in the building’s characteristic shadow play.
“The joinery is an integral part of the design and planning strategies in this home. The central unit acts as a service spine, a concept more commonly found in commercial properties,” says the architect.
“The joinery unit splits the public and private spaces in the home. The line of the unit is continued on the ceiling plan, creating a sense of stepping through rather than past the unit. At the edge of the room, the ceiling is pulled back to let natural light into the room without compromising privacy. On a site which is relatively exposed to foot traffic, this is a way to enjoy private viewings and light. The decision to leave the joists exposed opens up the opportunity for shadow play throughout the day.
“Wooden battens over the windows permit light to enter the room while providing privacy for the occupants, as vision is only provided straight on. Combined with the wrap-around, curved skylight, the house is provided with natural light and privacy year-round.”
Not only does the internal form of Curl Curl Residence provide coherence with the exterior, it also enabled the architects to eliminate trip thresholds and avoid circulation dead ends. Furniture and other specifications were chosen specifically to contribute to this sense of mobility.
“[Specified furnishings] were chosen to complement not just the colours and the style of the space, but also its form,” says CplusC. “For instance, the Stilnovo Arch Lamp with Marble Base echoes the curves of Curl Curl Residence. Because of the large expanse the stem provides, the light is centred in the room without being ceiling suspended.
“The island bench is a key element to ensuring to room flows and functions well. Many iterations were sketched and tested before the final configuration was determined. Island benches remain popular due to their flexibility and adaptability. In this case, the overall geometry of the bench picks up on the curve motif of the house. The kitchen island incorporates a double sink directly opposite the cooktop, allowing the chef to move between kitchen tasks with minimal movement.”
As a coastal home, Curl Curl Residence needed to come prepared with a robust climactic response. The building responds to changing conditions through “natural ventilation in all directions, two integral fish ponds and vegetation that cool the summer breeze, and large awnings and timber screening to shade living areas whilst providing privacy”. These ponds are recessed behind the building and screened with timber battens, creating personal outdoor spaces for each bedroom that also work to keep the temperature consistent.
The home’s visual drama comes courtesy of materials. Specifically, the contrast of blonde on black wood shows just how effective a material can be “when used well and in harmony with natural effects of light and shadow”.
“On the façade, the black-stained western red cedar of the exterior is juxtaposed with the oiled battens over the window and shadowed by nearby vegetation,” says the architect. “Pulled slightly away from the wall, the battens have a subtle shadow line [that] gives form to the hidden window, while a narrow strip of blue sky frames the elevation beautifully and shows the crisp finish of the roof flashing to advantage. Almost hidden against the darkness of the cladding, a black down light gives a dramatic lighting effect at night.
“Private views from the living room and deck have been created through clever material and landscape use, despite being on the street edge of the home. This effect is achieved through a combination of careful consideration of levels of vegetation.”