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This Lower North Shore Family House Feels Like A Permanent Vacation!

Architecture

Principal of Manolev Associates Architects Kiril Manolev fought long and hard to retain the impressive, mature palm trees on this Lower North Shore property.

The architect was engaged to design a new house onsite that retained the trees, but the original clients ended up selling the property before construction could commence.

Recognising the trees’ likely fate in new hands, Kiril contacted a buyer he knew looking to purchase in the area, and after looking at his design, they decided to buy the property and save the day! 

The resulting ‘Whisper House’ embraces its surroundings, particularly those two Bangalow palms, which frame the entry and provide a solid identity.

22nd February, 2021

The Whisper House by Manolev Architects. Photo – Katherine Lu. Styling – RMD Styling Co

‘The house is physically there, but it whispers of its existence, hence the name,’ says architect Kiril Manolev. Photo – Katherine Lu. Styling – RMD Styling Co

The loose brief was for a four-bedroom house, with oversized living area, outdoor gardens and an infinity pool in the backyard. Photo – Katherine Lu. Styling – RMD Styling Co

Project materials include concrete, travertine and limestone. Photo – Katherine Lu. Styling – RMD Styling Co

Through its double-height internal volumes and transparency, the house provides constant interaction between the interior and exterior. Photo – Katherine Lu. Styling – RMD Styling Co

Photo – Katherine Lu. Styling – RMD Styling Co

Living in this house is like being on a permanent holiday! Photo – Katherine Lu. Styling – RMD Styling Co

Landscaped terraced areas were designed by Peter Fudge Gardens. Photo – Katherine Lu. Styling – RMD Styling Co

Concrete was chosen as the house’s main material, partially due to bushfire regulations, and partially due to an underlying Japanese architecture influence. Photo – Katherine Lu. Styling – RMD Styling Co

The most distinguished feature of the property are the two magnificent mature Bangalow palms, located almost in the middle of the site. Photo – Katherine Lu. Styling – RMD Styling Co

The two Bangalow palms (which the architect fought to retain) frame the entry and provide the house a solid identity. Photo – Katherine Lu. Styling – RMD Styling Co

Amelia Barnes
Monday 22nd February 2021

‘For me the two Bangalow palms contained the spirit of the site, and were the biggest asset of the new house.’ – Kiril Manolev

There aren’t many southern Australian properties with two large palm trees on entry, so architect Kiril Manolev, principal of Manolev Associates Architects, felt passionate about retaining these in a recent project.

‘It was inconceivable for me that the decades old Bangalow palms and [existing] oleander cluster be removed,’ he says. ‘They give the site a unique identity, and provided the scale for the future house to follow.’ 

Original plans were submitted to council and approved, but the owners ended up selling the property before construction could begin (in part due to the long approvals process). Luckily for Kiril (and the trees!), the architect knew someone looking to buy in the area, and when he showed them the plans, they decided to buy the property! 

Kiril’s design overall embraces the property’s sloping site and features prominent, landscaped terraced areas. ‘For me the two Bangalow palms contained the spirit of the site and were the biggest asset of the new house,’ he says. 

Concrete was chosen as the house’s main material, partially due to bushfire regulations, and partially due to an underlying Japanese architecture influence. 

‘The key inspiration for the design approach was the relationship between a Japanese garden and the architecture – the interplay between the angularity of the architecture and the curvaceous forms of nature,’ Kiril says. 

His favourite element of the project, nicknamed the Whisper House, is the way this satisfies the ‘two most important aspects of zen…austere sublimity and subtle profundity.’ 

‘The stillness of the surrounding gardens contribute to the atmosphere of serenity and tranquillity. The house is physically there, but it whispers of its existence; hence the name.’

With filtered views of Middle Harbour, living in this house is like being on a permanent holiday! 

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