On first visiting the site we were met with a modest bungalow perched on a hill overlooking Vaucluse House. The clients were equally modest, simply needing more space for their family with better connection to the garden, sunlight and air. The garden was very important, and it became intrinsic to the design.
Our initial response was to maintain as much of the house as we could, but the new program required the removal of rear rooms for a larger living area, and the tiled roof to provide first floor accommodation. The introduction of new form and textures are responsive to the existing bungalow.
The existing gardens contained two large eucalypts that greet you on your rise up the hill, and a large rock that sat in the hill to the rear of the house, which became our focal and pivotal natural element in the new composition. With the underlying philosophy of relative modesty, the new form is setback, maintaining existing amenity enjoyed by neighbours. First floor accommodation is concealed in the black roof form, providing a recessive appearance from the street, nestling into the landscape, and being undemanding, unlike close neighbours.
We arrived at the double height central void early in the design, as it allowed access to desired sunlight, air and connection to the landscape, with our ‘rock’ becoming a feature in the lounge room. The shingled roof contains the void and envelops a parent’s suite and gallery library/study.
A large rock that sat in the hill to the rear of the house became our focal and pivotal natural element in the new architectural composition.
With the underlying philosophy of relative modesty, the new form is setback, maintaining existing amenity enjoyed by neighbours.
The first floor is concealed in the black roof form, providing a recessive appearance from the street, nestling into the landscape.
Resting on two legs at opposite corners allowed the possibility of a clear opening to the garden at ground and main living level. Opening like an eye to the sky and trees it folds along the perimeter of the plan.
When describing to the client the experience one might feel standing in the lounge room looking out, the analogy of a skirt was used and then stuck, hence skirt and rock.
When a family in the Sydney suburb of Vaucluse decided to extend their bungalow home, they enlisted local firm MCK Architects to carry out the renovation. But what began as a straightforward expansion quickly became complicated by the presence of a certain massive, protruding neighbor—a monolithic rock formation at the rear end of the site.
With clients willing to experiment and a natural context unusually dramatic for a domestic space, the project still conjures fond memories in the mind of Mark Cashman, one of the principals at MCK. "This house was one of the most enjoyable architectural experiences I have had," he told Knoll. "The client was wonderful to work with, allowing us almost free rein, while also providing collaborative input that was educated and informed with great taste."
For the new living room, the architects conceived of a double height void supported by two slim columns, permitting a deepened connection to the landscape by increasing access to sunlight, air, and the surrounding foliage. But the architects used the imposing position of the stone houseguest to amplify this connection, allowing the large rock to freely jut into the back of the bungalow through a clear opening on the ground floor.
"It opens like an eye to the sky and trees folding and undulating along the perimeter of the plan," Rowena Marsh, also a principal at MCK, said of the space. "When describing this form to the client, and the experience one might feel standing in the lounge room looking out, the analogy of a skirt was used and then stuck, hence skirt and rock."
Connecting an expansive living area to an elegant rectangular pond, a boundary of trees, and most significantly, a huge rock, the renovation balances the rugged edges of the natural terrain with the refined lines of a contemporary home. In a position that almost serves to lock this balance in place, a Lounge Chair and Ottoman designed for Knoll by German industrial designers Markus Jehs and Jürgen Laub was added to the living room, oriented to face the similarly faceted rock formation.
"The Jehs+Laub Lounge Chair and its footstool have a very contemporary feel, but with a clear reference to classic modernity,” noted Cashman. "There is a clear organic nature that also shows innovation and inventiveness, plus a bit of playfulness. These are all principles in the architecture of MCK, and perhaps why it sits well with our work."
"We believe the piece sits perfectly well in the double height living space," added Marsh, "providing an inviting element of comfort for one to recline in and enjoy the sunshine and views to the surrounding garden, while the geometry of the form sits harmoniously within the architecture."