Sibling Architecture has made a name for themselves with their innovative, conceptual and often playful approach to architecture. Their projects often go beyond aesthetic design, demonstrating a social and cultural conscience, and the Glassbook House in the Sydney suburb of Tempe is no different.
Created for a retired literature academic, the two-storey addition to a Federation era cottage had just one requirement: to be a private oasis for the client and her books. ‘Our vision was to create a light-filled sanctuary for reading,’ explains architect, Qianyi Lim. ‘We wanted the activity of reading to proliferate the living spaces of the home.’
With this in mind, Qianyi took the central organising principle of the client’s life (books) and created a floorplan that revolved around them. The social spaces are choreographed around the double height bookshelf, which sits at the centre of the house and stretches to the ceiling, cutting across the three split levels of the home.
The result is an inversion of traditional open-plan living, using mezzanine levels, open stairwells and steel mesh flooring to connect the spaces vertically. Qianyi credits Japanese residential architecture with the inspiration for this innovation, citing the way it utilises split levels to divide spaces as a key influence. These staggered platforms house multiple reading nooks, which are designed to take advantage of different aspects that maximise natural sunlight throughout the day.
The south-facing rear facade of the home is built entirely of stacked glass blocks which – as well as providing some serious wow factor – filters soft, indirect reading light through each level. Sturdy laminated timber veneer boards were selected to create continuous shelving, which stretches up two storeys along the central wall. On the top floor, the shelves lever out parallel to the floor to form a reading platform perfect for nestling next to the window. The result is a residence that unfolds itself as you progress through it, inviting you to take a seat at any of the reading nooks, take a tome from the shelf and settle down for the afternoon.
Not only does the striking glass block facade provide perfectly filtered light and a distinctive exterior feature, it creates an acoustic buffer between the domestic space and the flight path overhead. The block is situated just next to Sydney airport, so this added layer of protection was an absolute necessity in creating a library-like sanctuary.
Single pane glass doors act like pages, opening the kitchen and dining space out onto the paved back yard. Opening these floor-to-ceiling doors is a little like cracking the spine of a new novel. This house is an open book!
See more projects from Sibling Architecture here.