OR VIEW ALL
While there's an openness and transparency to the house Ed Lipprriann has designed on a steeply sloping site at Mosman, NSW, there's also a sense that there's far more to the place than meets the eye. It could be to do with the journey from the pivoting glass-disc-studded front door to the living room, two floors up.
Two steep flights of stairs, walled in on both sides - a dramatic entry - are a very real indication of the site: "You climb up the hill within the house," says the architect.
After the climb, you're into an enormous open living space - one that looks out to the harbour to the south, gives glimpses of the garden to the north, and opens out to the floor above which contains four bedrooms (all opening to a deck) and two bathrooms. Below is living space, guest rooms and an office.
Talk to Lippmann and the sense of depth becomes clearer; the design was not only influenced by previous work - including Sydney's award-winning Andrew (Boy) Charlton Swirrmflng Pool - but the architect was also deeply affected by his visits to Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona Pavilion and to the Maison de Verre in Paris. "I'm not the first architect to be struck by the luminous quality of the Maison de Verre," he says. "I'm interested in the idea of transparency, of finessing and controlling it." And as for the Barcelona Pavilion: "The subtle differentiation of spaces within it is masterful; it's very flexible."
How these two 20th century icons translate into Lippmann's design is seen in the translucent rice paper and laminated glass wall, along the stairway between the second and third floors, providing not only privacy but a surprisingly textural element. And in the sets of north-facing skylights carefully positioned to bring winter sun into the centre of the building, but shielded from summer sun. Plus the 'lightbox' glass-shelved unit in the living area, lit from below, and used to display the owner's collection of decorative glassware.
The Miesian concept of space is evident in the open-plan second floor, which has been subtly divided into three modules, partly delineated by columns - the living area, defined by a rug and sofas, at the southern end and opening to a balcony overlooking the harbour view; the dining area in the centre, a voluminous double-height space opening to the upper floor; and, screened off by a custom-made wenge unit, a family room looking toward the garden.
To the side of the dining and living area runs the kitchen, partially screened to conceal appliances. The virtually commercial kitchen is, he says, "worthy of note - a lot of time went into it, and as it takes up the living area, it had to be designed to be deserving". As with the rest of the house, the attention to detail is extraordinary; mitred corners at the edge of cupboards conceal the thickness of the material, slabs of Indian marble have been meticulously matched.
In common with other Lippmann houses, the aim has been to maximise the attributes of the site, make the most of natural light, integrate inside and out, and create flexible, generous spaces. Glass and finely detailed steel are used in abundance, but so too are natural materials - a mix of different stones, including limestone and various marbles, plus wenge joinery and spotted gum flooring. 1 now use a lot more natural materials, which give a richer, warmer environment, more responsive to human use," says Lippmann. On a practical level, there's almost an over-supply of storage (an underground wine cellar is buried in the rock face) and clever details used, such as the retractable flyscreen on all sliding glass doors. As Lippmann puts it: "Design tends to be made to look at - it should bnice to look at, but should also be able to handle living."
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