by Neometro

Finely Crafted

Architecture - by Stephen Crafti

This monumental contemporary house in Armadale is decades ahead of the period home the owners left behind. The 1930s family home left behind was clearly from a different time, but it had the sense of craftsmanship and style. “Our client’s family home was just too large, with many of the bedrooms simply not used. The sprawling garden also required a significant amount of work,” says Broderick Ely, design director of B.E architecture, who worked closely with architect Andrew Piva, a director of the practice. “This is still a large house (approximately 350-square-metres), but there are fewer rooms and spaces to suit their current needs,” adds Piva.

Photo: Derek Swalwell

On a relatively large block for the inner city, approximately 700 square metres, the brief from the clients, a couple downsizing, was fairly open from the outset. “They simply articulated how they like to live and were keen to have some fun with this project. They grew up in the 1960s after all,” says Ely, who found the initial series of client meetings to be open and in Ely’s words ‘joyous’. “There was a clear indication from the outset that they were looking for a sense of craftsmanship, using tactile materials, something they appreciated in their former period home,” says Ely.

Photo: Derek Swalwell

The idea of using granite came up early in the piece, offering both tactility and a sense of craftsmanship. “Some have even referred to this place as having almost a civic presence in the street,” says Piva. B.E architecture sourced the solid granite from Europe and split the face of each granite block to allow a greater, more ethereal presence. With the northern light on one side of the house and afternoon western light, the granite, with its quartz, adds a shimmer to the exterior. And to protect the first floor from the harsher light, the architects inserted timber-battened screens. “Our clients can vary the light as required. The screens also animate the house,” adds Piva.

Photo: Derek Swalwell

Past a Zen-like Japanese-style garden, with Mt Fuji cheery trees, visitors are greeted by a generous front door and gallery-style passage that leads to the open plan kitchen, dining and living areas. Orientated to a northern terrace and accessed via large sliding glass doors, the division between inside and out is blurred. The architects extended the material language of the granite in the massive structural columns on the terrace. Granite floors (which appear like terrazzo) are carried from the inside to the terrace. “With most of our work, we tend to use a fairly restrained set of materials,” says Piva.

Photo: Derek Swalwell

The kitchen, for example, features a stainless steel island bench, with a curved undercroft, also in stainless steel. Stainless steel also appears in the overhead kitchen joinery. However, a bank of limed walnut cupboards conceals appliances such as a fridge and pantry. Inside one of these cupboards is a beautifully detailed cocktail bar, complete with brass drawers. “We enjoy creating a few surprises in our homes, something that’s not expected,” says Piva. A sense of the handcrafted appears throughout the Armadale house, including the bespoke credenza in the living area and the four-metre-wide ring light, featuring hundreds of interlocking perspex discs that reflect the light.

Other rooms at ground level, such as the television room and home office, located towards the front of the house, are considerably more moody in feel, with lower ceilings and grey painted walls. “Here, the spaces are deliberately more compressed, ideal for displaying video-projected art,” says Piva.

As two of the owners’ adult children regularly stay over (living interstate), the house still includes generous bedroom accommodation. However, unlike the owners’ previous main bedroom, with a number of tight ancillary rooms, here the main bedroom suite is truly luxurious, both in space and in finish. The ensuite to this bedroom is fully encased in granite, with some textures slightly coarse, while others, such as the twin basins in the vanity, honed inside to be smooth to the touch. Centered on a Japanese-style garden, it is as Zen-like as one could ever find.

Photo: Derek Swalwell

One of the most poetic features in the home is the Juliet-style balcony that cantilevers over the swimming pool to the west. On warmer days, the door to the living room is left open and the moist air from the pool enters the home. “It’s still a large house, but everything has been designed for how the owners want to live now. They regularly have a large group of family and friends for dinner. The dining table can be extended onto the terrace, particularly during the warmer months of the year,” adds Piva.

Photo: Derek Swalwell

B.E architecture can be contacted on 9529 6433



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