It’s said that 6 degrees separate each human on earth from another. The Gordons Bay House asks how 6 degrees of separation might negotiate a web of complex associations in order to produce an architecture that performs for a wide group of people, while seamlessly integrating the built form with its context.
Set on the hillside overlooking the bay, the design consists of three levels, each level alternatively offset from the boundary by six degrees. The alternating orientation of each floor provides a response to different constraints imposed by the site.
The garage floor is skewed to provide easy access from the adjacent lane, while maximising the landscaped area at the front of the dwelling. The ground floor alternately angles northwest towards the view of the bay and the Clovelly headland. This also preserves and enhances views from the public lane on the southern side of the building. The first floor scissors again to produce a series of roof terraces and cantilevered overhangs that correspondingly expose and cover the spaces above and below. This order ensures that the project does not step on neighbour’s toes, without compromising the quality of the house. Alternating levels all pivot around a dramatic double height gallery stairwell that accommodates the client’s extensive collection of artwork and draws light and air through the centre of the dwelling.
Built to last, the house uses off-form concrete slabs and edge beams allowing the structure to cantilever gracefully. Windows and custom designed wall cladding are similarly treated with ellipsoid aluminium louvres that provide protection from the aggressive seaside environment. This palette of materials, as well as the use of new and salvaged timbers, and sandstone all elegantly speak of its setting.
The architecture is embraced and enhanced by landscaping designed by Terragram. Set atop the large exsting sandstone retaining wall on the street, a generous lawn is surrounded by edible plants and trees. Olives, espaliered citrus, vegetables and herbs help stock the kitchen, and the scraps return to the chickens that roam the garden from their bespoke chook house. The public lane to the south has been dramatically improved with endemic flowering ground covers and bushes.
The operation of the house is supplemented by a 4.2 kW photovoltaic array, large rainwater tanks, solar hot water and pool heating. This house is air conditioning free, the result of a contractual arrangement between architect and client to achieve a design that did not require it. Generous eaves, a considered application of thermal mass and natural ventilation operate to minimise the dwellings ongoing environmental impact.
The apparently simple layering of concrete slabs and aluminium louvres is enriched by irregularities provided by the changing geometry of the levels, the distinctive front door, a steel stair and irregular stonework. These irregularities become the human face of the architecture.