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This Graceful, Sculptural Home Is Like A Work Of Art

Architecture

When we think of concrete as a building material, we tend to imagine austere, brutalist forms seen in commercial buildings, or large scale residential development. But, concrete can also be delicate, sweeping and sculptural – as seen in the beautiful Birch Tree House by Susi Leeton Architecture + Interiors.

This unique Melbourne inner-suburban home is a feat of contrast: between light and dark, curve and straight, lightness and weight. Each moment is balanced out by its opposite, with careful precision to create a home that is towering yet gentle in stature.

4th October, 2021

Dining table is “Bronze Table” by Barbera Design. Dining chairs are  Michael Thonet Chair 20 from James Richardson. Bowl by Dinosoar Designs. Photo – Nicole England.

These steel arches around the pool terraces will be laced with vines in the coming years. Photo – Felix Mooneeram.

Fire side chair Paulistano armchair from Hub.  Cushion: French linen from Merci. Chiminee 3 sided fireplace from AGNEWS. Lighting design is Susi Leeton Architects in collaboration with Adrian Pizzey, supplied by Lights n Tracks. Rug by Loom. Dining table is “Bronze Table” by Barbera Design. Dining chairs are  Michael Thonet Chair 20 from James Richardson. Photo – Nicole England.

Lighting design is Susi Leeton Architects in collaboration with Adrian Pizzey, supplied by Lights n Tracks. Rug by Loom. Fire side chair Paulistano armchair from Hub. Chiminee 3 sided fireplace from AGNEWS. Delano sofa from Collective. Timber stools from Collective. Photo – Nicole England.

Bar stools are “Uccio” leather stool with bronze legs by Barbera Design. Dining table is “Bronze Table” by Barbera Design. Dining chairs are Michael Thonet Chair 20 from James Richardson. Richardson vase & glassware from Manon Bis. Cushion from Manon Bis. Splashback tiles are Nazari “Fez” from EARP Bros. Photo – Nicole England.

Lighting design is Susi Leeton Architects in collaboration with Adrian Pizzey, supplied by Lights n Tracks. Rug by Loom. Fire side chair Paulistano armchair from Hub. Delano sofa from Collective. Timber stools from Collective. Photo – Nicole England.

This lounge sits beside the entry way but is tucked away from view behind the sweeping spiral staircase. Photo – Nicole England.

This feat of architectural design mirrors the form and flow of a Brancusi sculpture. Simply incredible! Photo – Nicole England.

Twin studies are positioned at the quieter end  of the house (the front) away from the communal zones. Photo – Nicole England.

The bathroom is tiled in Mediterranean coloured sea green. The undulating wall makes it look like ocean waves. Photo – Nicole England.

The curved wall on the right blocks the view of the pool  from the entryway, funnelling the line of vision instead down to the garden. “My Country” painting by Sally Gabori. “Botolo” chair by Cini Boeri for Arflex from Poliform. Photo – Nicole England.

The waves of the mezzanine balcony shield any upstairs activity in the bedrooms from spilling into the main body of the residence. “My Country” painting by Sally Gabori. Photo – Felix Mooneeram.

The eponymous birch trees at the entrance. Photo – Felix Mooneeram.

Shadows dance on the gentle but robust facade. Photo – Felix Mooneeram.

The oversized front door resembles a cave entrance, signalling the monolith forms and sculptural curves beyond. Photo – Felix Mooneeram.

Sasha Gattermayr
Monday 4th October 2021

‘The volumes of the space are soft sculptural forms that overlap and intersect to create workable family zones.’ – Susi Leeton

The Birch Tree House by Susi Leeton Architecture + Interiors is an exercise in contrast. Despite being a functional home for a family of four, the clients and designers wanted it to be a statement piece of architecture – replete with sculptural elements and dramatic flourishes.

‘Our aim was to create a gentle but robust family home set amongst a beautiful, restful garden,’ says architect Susi Leeton. To do so, she maximised curved forms and textured materials that served both a functional and aesthetic purpose.

The waving curves and gentle arches of the walls create natural partitions between spaces, organically dividing rooms into their zones.

For example, the entrance hall staircase is a sweeping sculptural form, that shields the front living room from the threshold, while the mezzanine balcony undulates in soft waves to guard upstairs activity from spilling into the lower level. Another curved wall funnels the view from the entryway down to the garden – allowing the pool to unfold itself only as one moves through the belly of the house.

This curved motif continues on the exterior, with circular steel arches framing the northern pool terrace, and an oversized front door that resembles a cave entrance.

In order to achieve balance and constant harmony, these monolithic forms are offset by textures, tone and materials. An understated palette (consisting of natural limestone, oak timber floor, polished plaster wall and linen curtains) works to soften the oversized volumes. For every moment of solidness, there is a moment of delicacy.

‘The walls being Marmorino (polished plaster) create a shimmering effect throughout every space,’ says Susi. This is further enhanced by the glittering pool reflections bouncing off the rear body of the house. An elegant and graceful dance!

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