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Is This Australia's Answer to Palm Springs' Iconic Kaufmann House?

Architecture

A generous budget and faith in Shaun Lockyer Architects is behind this mammoth home in Toowoomba, constructed from tactile and timeless materials, in a style inspired by iconic American mid-century architecture. 

Director Shaun Lockyer says the project aspires to show how a rational and simple idea, when superbly executed, proves less really is more.

21st January, 2020

Onedin is a mid-century inspired new-build in Toowoomba. Photo – Scott Burrows

Curved and horizontal lines meet durable, hardworking materials. Photo – Scott Burrows

The look of the home was driven by the owner’s love of concrete and stone. Photo – Scott Burrows

Generous windows look out to stunning views. Photo – Scott Burrows

The interiors are distinctly contemporary. Photo – Scott Burrows

‘All of the inspiration images were of a very modern nature using concrete, timber and stone as their primary palette,’ says Shaun Lockyer. Photo – Scott Burrows

A pond features in the central, entry courtyard. Photo – Scott Burrows

‘The work of the Brazilian modernists, plus Richard Neutra, and a number of North American modernists were significant,’ says Shaun Lockyer of the project inspiration. Photo – Scott Burrows

The brief was to develop a timeless and engaging piece of modern architecture to serve as a family home and repository for the client’s extensive art collection. Photo – Scott Burrows

The pool might just be the best seat in the house! Photo – Scott Burrows

‘Being substantially off-form concrete, getting the detail and execution handled correctly was massively challenging,’ Shaun says. Photo – Scott Burrows

 The house is relatively simple in form, with a similar facade to the the famous Kaufmann House in Palm Springs, California. Photo – Scott Burrows

A desert-style front garden sets the tone for the mid-century inspired home to come. Photo – Scott Burrows

Amelia Barnes
Tuesday 21st January 2020

‘The combination of material, form and architectural expression combine here in a way that is rare for us to achieve on anything other than a significant block with a significant budget.’ – Shaun Lockyer

The first thing you’ll see when entering the gates at ‘Onedin’, is a desert-style garden setting the tone for the mid-century inspired home to come. The house is relatively simple in form, with a similar facade to the the famous Kaufmann House (1946) in Palm Springs, California, but the scale and hardworking material palette makes its significance immediately evident. ‘The combination of material, form and architectural expression combine here in a way that is rare for us to achieve on anything other than a significant block with a significant budget,’ says Shaun Lockyer, director of Shaun Lockyer Architects

The brief was to develop a timeless and engaging piece of modern architecture to serve as a family home, and repository for the client’s extensive art collection. Driving the aesthetics was the owner’s love of concrete and stone. ‘The work of the Brazilian modernists, plus Richard Neutra, and a number of North American modernists, were significant,’ says Shaun. 

An interplay of horizontal and vertical forms and volumes, with a compositional play of light and heavy materials, was designed for the facade. The floorplan was then conceived as three separate wings around a central courtyard, framed by a long stone wall.

In the main living space is the biggest void in the house, punctuated by a skylight described by Shaun as giving the concrete a ‘sense of lightness and even tension, as the shafts of light animate the space.’

While Shaun’s team is used to working with concrete, he admits this project tested even their capabilities. ‘Being substantially off-form concrete, getting the detail and execution handled correctly was massively challenging,’ he says. ‘It is a very unforgiving design to build, so the time was taken to properly document every millimetre. Very few changes were made on site.’ 

Shaun Lockyer Architects have designed several large scale homes, but they recognise Onedin as one of their landmark projects. ‘This is a very site-specific design, along with a brief that offered a rare opportunity to explore architectural form,’ says Shaun. The architects wish to credit the ‘extraordinary team of builders, consultants and subcontractors’, especially CGH Constructions, for bringing this design to life. Shaun says, ‘This may seem like an obvious point to make in the architectural world, [but] it is rare to have this level of collaboration, support and common vision toward a single idea.’

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