The Escarpment House in Gerringong NSW plays with the Australian shed vernacular, to create a modern and environmentally sensitive new form. Architect Andy Carson explains how the design transports the ‘steel portal frame typology’ into a contemporary, refined and highly detailed house.
The rectangular home runs parallel to the stunning ocean and rural views, oriented to maximise the outlook from all angles. Andy highlights that ‘at the point of entry, a framed view through the building to the ocean and south side is formed.’ Arresting from the first point of entry!
The client brief was for a modest shed-inspired guest house, to offer space for two visitors, sitting adjacent to the modern four-bedroom home on the farm property. (Yes, this is just the guest house!). The design has a bold silhouette, with asymmetrically pitched roof, and a simplified exterior form that gives an honest indication of the straightforward internal layout.
Perhaps most striking is the entire western façade of the guest house, where sweeping panels regulate light, views and temperature, with large mechanically driven copper segments. Andy explains ‘there are dramatic views of the ocean to the south, rolling green hills to the north and the Illawarra escarpment rises to the west providing some great sunsets – so we had to capitalize on all these elements while still providing a comfortable house on a very exposed site.’
The Escarpment House borrows from the nearby dairy farm sheds in its form, and also in construction techniques, which are elevated to new heights with a bespoke steel frame. Andy highlights how the asymmetrical portal frame is an ode to the quintessential Australian working shed – but in this case, ‘explored with immaculate minimalist detailing.’
While the sleek minimalism of this design may appear simple, this refinement took arduous planning to execute. The effortless appearance of the opening façade was achieved with the assistance of a local engineering company, who realised the concept through precise and inventive fabrication and installation. Subtle engineering of insulation, passive solar and double glazing also assists in creating a home that responds intuitively to the environment in which it sits.
Andy evocatively explains ‘whenever I get a chance to visit I love seeing how the house settles into the landscape, the materials’ patina, and sense of theatre of a winter sunset giving long bands of light right through the living room.’ This is no ordinary shed!