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An 'Upside Down' Family Home Floating Among The Treetops

Architecture

In the leaf suburb of Riverview just outside central Sydney, a tired 1980s residence has been transformed into a radiant family hideaway at the hands of Nobbs Radford Architects. With an unusual inverse floorpan that sees the entry on the ground floor, and the main living quarters at the top, most of the Riverview House hovers perfectly amongst the surrounding treetops.

This ‘upside-down’ family home is an example of a key architectural pillar: always follow the light.

25th May, 2020

The adjoining living space looks out over the treetops. Photo – Katherine Lu.

The timber screen divides the hallway from the kitchen to allow for a seamless transition between walkway and living areas. Photo – Katherine Lu.

Copper finishes and darker tones demarcate the kitchen from other rooms in the open plan space. Photo – Katherine Lu.

The generous kitchen is the hub of the home! Photo – Katherine Lu.

Internal voids and white paint were used to accentuate the natural light streaming in! Photo – Katherine Lu.

Every advantage to maximise views of the treetops have been taken! Photo – Katherine Lu.

The beating heart of the house is located on the upstairs floor. Photo – Katherine Lu.

A stairway to heaven. Photo – Katherine Lu.

Light in the entrance hallways is expertly directed upwards to guide the inhabitant upstairs. Photo – Katherine Lu.

Sasha Gattermayr
Monday 25th May 2020

‘Kitchens these days are about so much more than just preparing food.’ – Alison Nobbs, Director of Nobbs Radford Architects.

The Riverview house by Nobbs Radford Architects has been designed to blend into the bushy parklands surrounding it. Owing to the steep and rocky block the house sits upon, the central hub of the house is located on the second floor, with views to the treetops outside. The architect’s central concern was to maximise the connection between the home’s inhabitants and this surrounding landscape.

Materials and colours were selected to naturally frame the treetop vista, while internal design work was focused on re-choreographing the existing floorplan around day-to-day-family life. ‘The clients wanted us to reorganise their home, rather than add extra space,’ explains director, Alison Nobbs.

As the house is situated on a steep slope, its unusual layout flips a conventional residential floorplan, with the entry on the lower level and communal spaces above. On the upstairs floor, the generous kitchen is the central hub of the house, and Alison’s favourite feature. Copper finishes and a cylindrical copper range hood complement the sleek timber joinery and multipurpose free-standing bench, which is used for after-school homework in addition to more casual meal times. ‘Kitchens these days are about so much more than just preparing food and this one is such a multifunctional space for the family,’ Alison says.

Nobbs Radford turned to colour to signify a transition from room to room in the open-plan environment, and differentiate the functions of each space. The living space was painted white to exaggerate the volume of the ceilings, while the kitchen and dining room were cast in a darker shade of grey to create an intimate and enclosed atmosphere. ‘The house had some fantastic features that we sought to accentuate, for example the soaring exposed ceilings in the living room,’ Alison explains. ‘Materials and colours were selected to be a serene framing of the outlook to nature beyond.’

By re-working the flow of this home, and reconnecting the residents with their surroundings, this renovation is subtle yet transformative. The architects have breathed new life and warmth into this robust, 1980s home, ensuring it will be enjoyed for many years to come!

See more projects by Nobbs Radford Architects here.

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The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

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