This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

A Clever Home That Conjures Space

Architecture

In 2016 Artist James Turrell, the famous master of spatial illusion, designed the House of Light in Tokamachi, Japan. The architectural feat is described as a ‘guesthouse for meditation’ and plays with the beauty of shadows and light in Japanese culture.

Madeline Blanchfield Architect’s Coogee House II could be the pragmatic Australian cousin of Turrell’s House of Light. The home transforms light into space, and gently manipulates the restrictions of the closely-neighboured, steep residential setting into an expansive and friendly family home. Read on/dream on below.

29th November, 2018

The street-facing façade of ‘Coogee House II’ by Madeleine Blanchfield architects. Photo – Robert Walsh.

Photo – Robert Walsh.

Photo – Robert Walsh.

Photo – Robert Walsh.

Photo – Robert Walsh.

Photo – Robert Walsh.

The spectacular light-filled living and dining area seamlessly integrating outdoor spaces. Photo – Robert Walsh.

The couryard.Photo – Robert Walsh.

Photo – Prue Ruscoe.

The kitchen. Photo – Robert Walsh.

Living and dining spaces. Photo – Robert Walsh.

Photo – Robert Walsh.

Photo – Robert Walsh.

The bathroom. Photo – Robert Walsh.

Photo – Robert Walsh.

The bedroom. Photo – Robert Walsh.

Miriam McGarry
Thursday 29th November 2018

The Coogee II home performs gentle acts of magic – conjuring space on a crowded block, borrowing views on a hemmed-in site, and delivering maximum impact on a tight budget. Architect Madeline Blanchfield explains, ‘the house seeks to create a sense of spaciousness and outlook on a difficult site which is steep, long, narrow, has a mono-directional view and is surrounded by many adjoining neighbours.’ Through manipulating light and space, the home has been designed to feel expansive and generous.

Madeline describes that the client’s brief was for a ‘robust and livable home for a young family’ with ‘light-filled and uplifting spaces, and calm materiality.’ The physical constraints of the site were overcome through the introduction of double height courtyards that invite in northern light, and offers a sense of elevation and expansion without encroaching on neighbouring properties.

These courtyards ‘borrow’ peephole views through the floors of the home, transforming a singular outlook into multiple ways of seeing the Coogee coastline. Madeline also explains how the layers of ‘open and glassy spaces on the lower level step down the site and minimise the perceived steepness.’ The indoor-outdoor spaces also bring the landscape into the home, and roof planting further connects the home to its environment.

A sense of light and spaciousness is also encouraged by the materials palette, of white-painted brickwork and rough-cut stone. The upper bedroom floor is shrouded with moveable screens that lend a sense of privacy and containment, in contrast to the open and expansive courtyards. These perforated screens allow light-flow and views out, cast changing shadows throughout the day, and glow softly at night. Again, the architect leverages light into new forms – this time through shifting textures.

The home also uses light as a low-energy strategy. The orientation and sun-shading determined the layout of the home, maximising thermal mass and cross ventilation. The aesthetic form of the home is directly informed by the passive solar design – and aligning with Japanese writer Jun’ichirō Tanizaki’s argument that ‘the quality that we call beauty…must always grow from the realities of life.’

While the beauty of this home is undeniable, the true success of the design is how well it supports family life. Madeline sums up, ‘going back once the family had moved in, being in the living room with the morning sun streaming in and the kids playing in the courtyard was very rewarding. That is, after all, what it’s all about.’

This Week

Being Green

Bring Sustainability Into Your Kitchen In Time For Christmas

Generous gift-giving and conscientious home-making made simple, with our guide to sustainable utensils, cleaning products and storage soluti...
Elle Murrell

Interiors

Modern Mediterranean Is Having A Moment

Our resident interiors expert translates the latest contemporary interiors craze, inspired by all things Mediterranean.
Lauren Li

Architecture

A 'Modernist Ruin' In Malvern

Figureground Architecture create a renovation that simultaneously harks back and gazes forwards.
Miriam McGarry
  3 hours ago

News

The 60s-Inspired Ceramic Homewares That Will Make Your Christmas List

Prominent Queensland design studio Marloe Marloe launches their foray into home decor!
Sally Tabart
  3 hours ago

Art

Win An Artwork By Ali McNabney-Stevens

This vibrant original artwork by the much-loved Melbourne painter could be yours, thanks to Dulux.

News

Celebrating One Of Australia’s Most Influential Designers

A retrospective book and exhibition of Akira Isogawa’s 25-year career.
Sally Tabart

News

Having A Nice Time!

The Melbourne pop-up plant and gift shop with a focus on plants and local makers.
Sally Tabart

Modernist Australia

The Beachfront ‘McKay House’ Is Up For Auction This Weekend

A DREAM beach house in Mollymook, New South Wales, designed by one of the nation’s most beloved Modernist firms, Allen Jack + Cottier Arch...
Patricia Callan and Pete Bakacs

Food

Alice & Marlon's Amazing Wholegrain Mustard

WHO KNEW it was so easy to make your own mustard? SO much better than the store bought variety – think Xmas and summer BBQ crowdpleaser!
Alice Johnson

Regional

In The Field With Australia’s Most Astounding Conservation Organisation

Bush Heritage Australia takes us through their new off-the-grid Michael Tichbon Field Station, perched in the remote Western Australian wild...
Elle Murrell

News

Reed Gift Fairs Back For A Blockbuster Sydney Event

Australia’s premier retail trade show returns in 2019 with a renewed focus on the home.
Sponsored

Travel

Top Spots Along The Great Ocean Road With Jenna Densten

A roadtrip with the much-loved renovator, showcasing her favourite stops from Torquay to Apollo Bay.
Jenna Densten
  11 hours ago

Homes

A House With A Heart Of Gold

Real estate gold, in gold rush country! The hand-crafted country home and garden of Luke Mortimer and Steve Burley in Chewton, Victoria.

Architecture

A Home Designed For Connection

A dual occupancy sub-division results in a surprisingly roomy home for six (!) - the 'Connect Six' House in Brighton, by Whiting Architects....

Architecture

This Is No Ordinary Shed!

Exploring new forms in Australian vernacular architecture, with Atelier Andy Carson in Gerringong, NSW.
Miriam McGarry

View Comments

Similar Stories

Architecture

Indoor/Outdoor Living At Its Finest!

An 87sqm post-war Queenslander cottage, extended and updated by Owen Architecture.

Architecture

A Coastal Concrete 'Tee' House

An astounding home transformation by Luigi Rosselli Architects in Sydney’s Tamarama.
Elle Murrell

Architecture

A Re-Invigorated Queenslander Cottage

Inside the serene B&B Residence by Brisbane's Hogg & Lamb architectural design practice.

This Week

News

Reed Gift Fairs Back For A Blockbuster Sydney Event

Australia’s premier retail trade show returns in 2019 with a renewed focus on the home.
Sponsored

Art

Win An Artwork By Ali McNabney-Stevens

This vibrant original artwork by the much-loved Melbourne painter could be yours, thanks to Dulux.

Architecture

A Home Designed For Connection

A dual occupancy sub-division results in a surprisingly roomy home for six (!) - the 'Connect Six' House in Brighton, by Whiting Architects....

Travel

Top Spots Along The Great Ocean Road With Jenna Densten

A roadtrip with the much-loved renovator, showcasing her favourite stops from Torquay to Apollo Bay.
Jenna Densten
  11 hours ago

Homes

A House With A Heart Of Gold

Real estate gold, in gold rush country! The hand-crafted country home and garden of Luke Mortimer and Steve Burley in Chewton, Victoria.

Interiors

Modern Mediterranean Is Having A Moment

Our resident interiors expert translates the latest contemporary interiors craze, inspired by all things Mediterranean.
Lauren Li

News

Celebrating One Of Australia’s Most Influential Designers

A retrospective book and exhibition of Akira Isogawa’s 25-year career.
Sally Tabart

Architecture

This Is No Ordinary Shed!

Exploring new forms in Australian vernacular architecture, with Atelier Andy Carson in Gerringong, NSW.
Miriam McGarry

Regional

In The Field With Australia’s Most Astounding Conservation Organisation

Bush Heritage Australia takes us through their new off-the-grid Michael Tichbon Field Station, perched in the remote Western Australian wild...
Elle Murrell

Food

Alice & Marlon's Amazing Wholegrain Mustard

WHO KNEW it was so easy to make your own mustard? SO much better than the store bought variety – think Xmas and summer BBQ crowdpleaser!
Alice Johnson

Being Green

Bring Sustainability Into Your Kitchen In Time For Christmas

Generous gift-giving and conscientious home-making made simple, with our guide to sustainable utensils, cleaning products and storage soluti...
Elle Murrell

Modernist Australia

The Beachfront ‘McKay House’ Is Up For Auction This Weekend

A DREAM beach house in Mollymook, New South Wales, designed by one of the nation’s most beloved Modernist firms, Allen Jack + Cottier Arch...
Patricia Callan and Pete Bakacs

News

Having A Nice Time!

The Melbourne pop-up plant and gift shop with a focus on plants and local makers.
Sally Tabart

Architecture

A 'Modernist Ruin' In Malvern

Figureground Architecture create a renovation that simultaneously harks back and gazes forwards.
Miriam McGarry
  3 hours ago

News

The 60s-Inspired Ceramic Homewares That Will Make Your Christmas List

Prominent Queensland design studio Marloe Marloe launches their foray into home decor!
Sally Tabart
  3 hours ago

Similar Stories

Architecture

Indoor/Outdoor Living At Its Finest!

An 87sqm post-war cottage, extended and updated by Owen Architecture.

Architecture

A Coastal Concrete 'Tee' House

An astounding home transformation by Luigi Rosselli Architects in Sydney’s Tamarama.
Elle Murrell

Architecture

A Re-Invigorated Queenslander Cottage

Inside the serene B&B Residence by Brisbane's Hogg & Lamb architectural design practice.