Located on a stretch of cliff-top land with views towards the sea, the site is at the end of cul de sac and abuts the Flinders Golf Course on two sides. The brief was to design “a retreat”. The client’s wife had strong connections with the area, having visited there regularly as a child.
The site’s location is peculiar in the way it suggested a sense of “isolation” within the golf course. Our idea was to reinforce this peculiar sensibility. To explore how it could be referenced through the way the surroundings are viewed from the interior, in the positioning of the house on the site, and in more a general sense, in how it could connect to a notion of “simple architecture”.
The strategy was to continue the landscape of the golf course into the site and to locate the new house within it. A series of mounds were constructed matching those in the golf course deliberately exposing the interior to it. Pathways from the road were avoided so that one must traverses these mounds to enter the house. From the road one passes a black wall. Seven coats of stain were applied to give it “Intensity”. This wall conceals the function of sleeping which exists behind it and signals a physical point of departure from the utility of the road to the surreality of the interior of the living spaces where the visitor finally arrives.
The living space is contained in an elliptical volume. The ellipse was chosen for a few reasons. Firstly, it has a connection with the forms of the golf course. Secondly, It is cost effective and practical in allowing the same functional program (that is furniture layout) at a much tighter floor area and surface area, therefore meeting the tight budgetary constraints. And finally, the elliptical plan gives a calmness and fluidity to space.
The walls are finished with the veneer of one Victorian eucalyptus tree. The idea of using the veneer of one tree is connected with a notion of “pioneering economy”- that is you fell the tree and use every part. The veneer was hand sourced, and to avoid any joints, it was glued to the wall directly on site as a “final skin”. From inside the house one observes the life of the golf course as if looking at some sort of “cinematic scene”- a movie. There is calmness to this scene as the golfers drift past with rhythmical consistency.
Sharif Abraham is an architect based in Melbourne, Australia and is currently establishing an office in Shanghai. He graduated from the University of Melbourne in 1991 with first class honors. Building on 20 years of experience working on a wide variety of architectural projects with leading design firms, including the office of Denton Corker Marshall, both in Melbourne and in Beijing, he established the studio in 2004. Sharif’s work is renowned for its spatial innovation and sensitivity to visual outcomes. It investigates the fusing of architectural form and cultural meaning and experiments with historical models. His work explores spaces that engage humans on artistic and cultural levels.
Location: Victoria, Australia Designer: Sharif Abraham Architects Project name: Flinders House
Completion date: 2008
Photographer: Sanja Pahoki
Construction Area: 125 m2