Fleur Glenn has been living on the same Clifton Hill block for over 30 years, across multiple dwellings. In 2016, she subdivided the site to build her ideal treehouse-inspired home. She explains, ‘I moved into the new house in August 2018, and it feels so luxurious and wonderful.’
The design of this idiosyncratic home developed in an appropriately unconventional way, as Fleur sought out her daughter’s friend Murray Barker as the architect for the project. Fleur had met Murray socially and knew he would be responsive to her ideas, and that she wouldn’t ‘feel pushed into a house design that really wasn’t me.’
The project brief was for a treehouse, and Murray explains, ‘Fleur had her own interesting ideas for the type of home she wanted to build.’ As his first solo architectural project, Murray highlights being ‘initially daunted by the task of taking on a full new build, but Fleur’s trust gave me confidence.’ Murray advocated for a varied spatial plan that respected Fleur’s desire for a modest size, but introduced variety to the compact footprint. The clean and considered lines of the building offer sites of retreat, as well as zones for sharing with family and friends.
When we last spoke Fleur told us she said she ‘could go on and on about the things I love about this house,’ and that feeling has only intensified during the current pandemic. Normally an admin worker at a sexual health clinic, at 64 years of age and possibly at risk of the virus, Fleur has been on leave and isolating at home. ‘I have spread my writing out all over the dining table. I have borrowed a keyboard with the dream of learning to play with a tutor on YouTube, but it is so hard and frustrating that I have almost given up on this,’ she says. ‘Upstairs I sit at my desk and look out into my gum trees and over the changing world of autumn and families walking the streets.’ One project she’s been tackling is building a chook house, using muddled building materials collected on neighbourhood walks.
Normally people relish the end of a home renovation, but ever since its completion 18 months ago, Fleur has been itching to tackle another project. ‘I still miss the excitement of the design and build. I wish Murray and I could work on another project and, of course, we’d do it all again with Hamish and his people from Sanctum Homes. It was such fun,’ she says. ‘Often, when I am walking along the street, I look up and see my house among the beautiful gum trees and I can’t believe it is really mine. I am so lucky.’