The client brief for this Newcastle property was for an unpretentious and simple home, namely, ‘no McMansions, no two storeys.’ The design also needed to respond to a wedge-shape site, and be elevated on an architectural pedestal, in the low-lying flood prone area along the Stockton peninsula in Newcastle. Jennifer McMaster of Trias Studio explains ‘on this basis the house needed to be several things: tough and hardy, but also coastal and crafted.’ The resulting sleek, timber-clad home draws together all of these conditions into a beautifully resolved three-part home.
The clients wanted to downsize from a previous family home, while retaining the potential for expanding to accommodate full Christmas crowds. Jennifer explains the need for an accordion-like ‘ebb and flow’ of welcoming guests and then ‘emptying out and not feeling vast or uninhabited.’ This flexible use is achieved through multi-mode design, where the house is composed of two pavilions, ‘one for living, and one for sleeping – bridged by a study corridor’ Jennifer articulates. In providing spaces of privacy and autonomy, distinct from the vibrant entertaining areas, the home can perform many shifting functions.
The mid-century modern aesthetic of the home is inspired by the work of Scandinavian architects such as Jorn Utzon and Alvar Aalto. These architects explore tactility and texture in their timeless designs, and Trias Studio have drawn on these foundations, particularly in their choice of a varied materials palette. Jennifer explains how the use of brick, timber and brass were selected as they ‘age beautifully and develop a story and patina over time.’
Recycled materials were also selected to align with the aesthetics and values of the client. The small-footprint home relies on passive solar design strategies, recycled bricks and rough-sawn timber. Jennifer explains how a sense of luxury is subtly fostered through small design choices, rather than grand flourishes. ‘It prioritises the little things and, in doing so, makes for an experience that is simple and yet special, surprising and yet unpretentious.’