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From street level, this inner-city Melbourne home sits quietly on a cut-out cliff and lies low to the sloping landscape. Its discretion and sculptural facade is both intriguing and deceiving; rendered curved walls and irregular deep-set windows suggest influences from adobe-style architecture as well as Le Corbusier's celebrated chapel of Notre Dame du Haut. Comparsions aside, the exterior gives little clue to the refined style and seamless flow of the living zones within. As visitors descend steps to the main entrance and Japanese stone garden several meters below, an oasis unfolds.
Brother and sister architects Susi and Michael Leeton joined forces for this one-off project, which spanned more than four years due to its size and the limitations of its landscape and flood plain.
"We wanted it to have a handmade, almost archaic feel, which we hopes will remain as timeless and strong as the primitive adobe structures."
A handcrafted bronze handle on the four-meter high front door (inspired by a favourite tree in the garden) represents both the family of five and all of the artisans and tradsmen that have been involved with the project.
"Right from the start there was a wonderful sense of collaboration and pride," explains Michael.
The central spiral staircase sitting in front of a curved raw-concrete wall with a timber texture. "This was a real structural challenge," recalls Susi. Handmade from steel plate and welded together onsite, the stairs act as a roundabout, dividing the home's various zones. As with the concrete steps leading to the front door, the "step ratio" on the staircase was heavily researched by Susi and Michael, keen to find the perfect gradient per step to make the journey as fluid as possible. A narrow slither of skylight along the roof line accentuates the stairwell's beautiful sculptural shape, a symbol of form and function.
Leeton House Image Gallery
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