Clontarf House

Manly Council
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This speculative project began with an existing single brick clad steel framed house on a steep slope. Built to the maximum envelope with poor materials, an illogical layout and paucity of outdoor spaces there was little of the existing conditions to keep. The surrounding conditions were more intriguing: to the north the adjacent block of land was too steep to be built on and would remain remanent bush; to the west a body of water was visible from the upper level and in the surrounding bush land paths meander down to the harbour with a sequence of views through the trees including glimpsed horizons. One could imagine glorious isolation despite the suburban context. Any new building needed to develop responses to these observed poetics. Strategically the decision was made to edit and reconfigure, to remove the envelope to reveal the skeletal frame of the building. The existing grid of structural steel affords a robust edit and responsive reconfigurations around the grid. A double height slice was taken through the frame creating a new north-facing courtyard and a meandering path through this new void is the spine of the building. The expressive architecture occurs in these circulation spaces engaging directly with the split via irregular sequences of spaces. These are responsive spaces, augmenting the buildingâs relationship to the site with glimpses of the views, double height spaces with elevated walkways at the level of the trees. Southern light enters though elongated windows and is mediated through the treed site to the North. The harbour views are to the west and so living spaces were moved to afford this view while a large cantilever provides deep shade as though the building holds a hand to the face while watching the sun set.
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