After a long working day, there’s nothing more comforting than retreating to a sanctuary, a refuge that at once feels private, yet connected to the natural world. Edition Office’s award-winning Hawthorn House in Melbourne’s East achieves such aims in spectacular fashion – combining a striking pair of large, heavily textured concrete shrouds with a lush outdoor terrace and garden.
‘The brief was to design a home that would age gracefully; a private yet open house with multiple living areas, to allow children and adults within the family to grow and have their changing needs accommodated over time,’ explain Aaron Roberts and Kim Bridgland, Directors of Edition Office.
Upon first reading the site, the duo had to come to terms with the opportunities (specifically three wonderful old trees) and constraints (the need to balance privacy and refuge, whilst providing excellent connectedness to the outdoors).
Drawing inspiration from monolithic masonry buildings, the work of Pezo Von Ellrichshausen and Juliaan Lampens’ Brutalist Vandenhaute Kiebooms House, the architects responded with ‘a deceptively simple and singular solution’. Their commanding, window-less concrete arches, so dense they seem to blanket the dwelling, act as shells for the first-floor sleeping and bathing spaces. At the same time, these primary structural elements provide clear connectivity between the entire landscape of the site and the living areas at ground level.
Inside, the architects practiced restraint in terms of material palette and detailing, believing this ‘strengthens rather than smothers the experiential quality of the project’. Considerate detailing provides a sense of interior warmth and lightness, for example, balustrades and door handles are composed of elemental intersections of brass, timber, and concrete, which will patina with use over time.
‘We see the project, beyond its core function of dwelling, as a poetic vessel which can modify both experience of place and amplify and nurture the particular experiences of one’s daily life,’ reflect Aaron Roberts and Kim Bridgland. ‘It is at once civic and domestic, deeply enclosed while being intensely open, highly exposed while being effortlessly private, it is heavy yet also surprisingly light.’
A space of complementary contrasts, this home is one we’ve no doubt will stand the test of time.