The Arc is a stunning, sculptural family home designed to replace the clients’ existing house. Its design reflects the clients’ love of mid-century modern and stone, as well as the need to accommodate their growing family.
From the architect:
Our clients had lived in their unremarkable 1980s brick veneer house on an acre of land for eight years. They loved the land but hated the house. Positioned near the centre of the property, accessed by a steep, snaking driveway which rises up from the street, the house sat on a cut and fill “bench” and had no connection to the assets of the site. The house did not relate to anything – not topography, nor mind, nor spirit.
The brief to design a contemporary family home was to reflect the clients’ love of mid-century modern architecture and to incorporate stone as a feature material. An easily accessible external entertaining area was a must-have and this was to connect to the vast back lawn, which had been detached from the existing house. Demolition of the existing house was a given. They wanted to start again, but this time with a house that capitalised on the beauty of the site.
The topography and orientation of the site were the main obstacles we had to overcome in the design of The Arc.
The existing “bench” is orientated generally north-south with the long sides facing east and west. Therefore, exposing living spaces towards the sun and connecting the front entry level with the much higher rear yard on a very steep site were major challenges.
Our design began by using the existing cut and fill “bench”. On this bench we designed a curved podium for the house and set the main floor level 3.5 metres above. The curved form provides four main functions:
- Northern solar access for the main living spaces
- Access to views across the front of the property
- Direct physical connection with the rear slope
- A rational radial grid for ease of construction
The house plan, a 91-degree arc, comprises 13 segments set on a radial grid, emphasised by an expressed steel skeleton and a garden wall along one of the radial grid lines to the origin point.
The centrally located entry, at the original floor level, is a double height space providing the transition to the main floor level via a timber stair that wraps around a lift shaft and skirts a solid stone shard that bisects the plan. This shard is the central, focal point of the house.
The kitchen/dining/living space opens on one side to a northern timber deck and pool. The garden (radial) wall runs along the east edge of the deck to define and enclose the outdoor recreation space. The southern aspect of this main living room provides views across the tree canopy to the neighbouring hills via a fully glazed, segmented, curved window wall. The stone shard appears at one end of this space, incorporating the fire place, countered by a predominantly black kitchen with cantilevered concrete bench at the other end.
Beyond this transparent, central space, the enticing curved hallways extend to the parent’s study and bedroom to the east and the kid’s rumpus room and bedrooms to the west. The hallway walls are punctuated with vertical slot windows, providing slices of sunlight and garden views along the journey.
The lower level has a ‘cave-like” feel, with its polished concrete floor and minimal glazing. It comprises a double garage, spare bed room and a studio.
The palette of rough-sawn timber cladding in three different profiles, the timber flooring and the stone are intended to blend into the tree-filled surrounds and evoke an earthiness and a contrast to the industrial, exposed, black steel skeleton and large glass panels. The bagged concrete block podium acts as a neutral base to the main arc it supports.
The eaves’ widths ensure summer sun is predominantly kept out of the interior, while allowing the winter sun to penetrate deep into the internal spaces. Double-glazing is utilised throughout to minimise winter heating loss and super insulation works to reduce thermal transfer. A massive water tank below the deck captures rainwater for use on the expansive garden.