THE "SPINE" HOUSE
ON AN OCEANSIDE CLIFF
We were truly fortunate in our commission to design a brand new home on this site through word of mouth and reputation, with the clients being friends of several of our other clients.
A unique property such as this does not come regularly to a practice, presenting as a long stretch of relatively flat land overlooking a public park in front of a sheer drop to the ocean in Dover heights. Such an incredible piece of land demanded a carefully thought through project, driven by strong and rigorous design concept to pull it all together.
We conceived of it as two main longitudinal layers, with the rear layer being a long service ‘spine’ accommodating the main circulation, bathrooms and laundry spaces.
The second longitudinal layer in front of this also works across the length of the front of the property. This device provides every major habitable room of the house, ranging from every bedroom, to the the living room, the kitchen/dining room and family room, with direct access to the ocean views. A predominantly glazed easterly front orientation required the mediation of some shading. This was done with the creation of a double volume height
roofed patio which runs along the entire length of the property. This not only provides shading, but also acts as an additional layer or buffer of separation and privacy between the private house and the public park in front of the ocean. Each teenage son got to have their own double height entertaining/study space and en suite on the ground level, with loft bedrooms above.
A main bedroom suite and study are located above the public living spaces and garages, with the study designed as a ‘eyrie ‘providing panoramic views across the ocean and city/harbour to the rear.
The concept of these two layers informed the choice of materials, with the rear service layer anchored in solid exposed concrete blocks. The front layer is expressed as a lighter contrast with its expansive glazing and naturally finished timber cladding.
The family loved living in the home, and after a few years, with changing circumstances, they sold it by auction through Sotheby’s for a record amount at the time of the sale.