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A Dramatic Riverfront Home In Tasmania

Architecture

House At Otago Bay by Victorian-based architectural practice Topology Studio is a project that perfectly responds to its context. Located at the edge of Tasmania’s River Derwent, the house adopts a two-storey floor plan, the upper of which embraces dramatic water and mountain views, while the lower level looks out to nearby native vegetation. 

Incorporating locally sourced, custom-manufactured masonry to complement the tones of its setting, this house truly appears at one with the land.

25th September, 2020

House at Otago Bay frames uninterrupted water views from its upper storey. Photo – Paul Hermes. Styling – Inside Story

A terrace softens the distinction between the house and landscape. This is set down so outdoor furniture does not crowd the view. Photo – Paul Hermes. Styling – Inside Story

Terraces are laid with Australian bluestone. Photo – Paul Hermes. Styling – Inside Story

The house adopts a two-storey floor plan, the upper of which embraces dramatic water and mountain views. Photo – Paul Hermes. Styling – Inside Story

 Perched above the water, the living space features a continuously curving timber ceiling that expands the length of the home. Photo – Paul Hermes. Styling – Inside Story

The ceiling lifts in the east to address Mount Direction, then again in the west to take in the river and Mount Wellington. Photo – Paul Hermes. Styling – Inside Story

The kitchen window faces the courtyard and brings in morning light. Photo – Paul Hermes. Styling – Inside Story

The bathroom and bedroom have their own views of nature. Photo – Paul Hermes. Styling – Inside Story

Photo – Paul Hermes. Styling – Inside Story

Hardwood timber features on the exterior. Photo – Paul Hermes. Styling – Inside Story

The house’s lower floor is embedded in the steep ground, framing sheltered views across the native grasses to the water.  Photo – Paul Hermes. Styling – Inside Story

The framing of views is so successful, that the home feels completely removed from civilisation, despite being mere metres away from other properties. Photo – Paul Hermes. Styling – Inside Story

Amelia Barnes
Friday 25th September 2020

‘The quality of materials and space was more important than just the floor area.’ – Amy Hallett

When the owners of this site in Tasmania’s Otago (about 20 minutes from Hobart) engaged Victorian-based practice Topology Studio to design their house, they requested dramatic views of River Derwent and the mountains beyond. At the same time, the owners were keen to embrace native vegetation at the water’s forefront. Topology Studio’s response, ‘Why don’t we have both?’

Topology Studio have designed a two storey house that separately embraces these dual outlooks. Perched above the water, the living space features a continuously curving timber ceiling that expands the length of the home. This ceiling lifts in the east to address Mount Direction, then again in the west to take in the river and  kunanyi / Mount Wellington. Meanwhile, the lower floor is embedded in the steep ground, framing sheltered views across the native grasses to the water. 

The framing of these views is so successful, that the home feels completely removed from civilisation, despite being mere metres away from other properties. ‘A blank wall to the south curves to follow site contours, directing views away from the neighbours,’ explains Amy Hallett, director of Topology Studio. 

Hardworking materials were chosen for the project in response to the site’s weather conditions and bushfire regulations, and the client’s desires. ‘They asked for materials that would endure in a harsh environment, and recognised that the quality of materials and space was more important than just the floor area,’ Amy says. Locally manufactured, bespoke concrete blocks complement the tones of the setting, alongside hardwood timber on the exterior, and Australian bluestone on the terraces. These carefully selected materials and refined geometry have produced a home that is precise, yet textured and warm.

The owners of this home are well aware of its significance within the landscape, and have been lovingly tending to the site since the project’s completion last year. ‘They have amazing energy and every time we visit they have done more to reestablish the native vegetation across the site,’ says Amy.

The house was a winner at the 2019 Australian Institute of Architects Tasmanian Architecture Awards, the 2019 Think Brick Awards the 2019 ArchiTeam Awards. And it’s shortlisted in The Design Files + Laminex Design Awards too – check out the other finalists 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. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net