Yin & Yang
Yin & Yang
Forget plans, it all began with a drawing by a child. ‘For Tony’ it read, with pictures of a pool, a dog and a kitchen bench sketched across a delicately crinkled A4 piece of paper.
There are few things in life as permanent than a building, and fewer yet a child. For the clients, this would be their home away from home; balancing Cantonese cultural tastes with Australian sun, space and sky. A home for the adults to recline in, their pet labrador to run around in, and their daughter to grow up in; an honest, unassuming build that formalises a spatial relation where everything is pregnant with its opposite, yet maintains a proprietary notion to family. Yin & Yang house was designed to effect and construct a series of norms and rules of behaviour. Less what a building is capable of, more what is legitimate for it to resolve.
Multiple design concepts were explored - radical courtyard homes, lone pavilions, facades with spectacle - however what resurfaced was a desire to respect the ‘neighbourhood character’ of the Eastern suburbs with a single-storey detached house. A Council-pleasing Category 1 Planning Consent was the outcome; humility begets a home.
Concurrently, our clients appreciate the narrative of the Australian suburb. The client's lifestyle of diverse businesses and constant travel have sharpened their foresight to pick up local nuances. As such, the project sought to create a home as a point of difference rather than a wholesale change. To achieve this a defined spatial grid was overlaid. The building grid is offset as an homage to the traditional Chinese adage of not having a direct path from the entry doors. Above which, an interplay of raked ceilings and clerestories - one of neutral off-white, the other of charcoal - lead up to an open living and dining space; purposefully dominated by an 18 x 3m Indoor Pool and spa, shimmering from Northern light. The client, a doctor by profession, advocates good health by swimming, especially when used with the spa and Alaskan cedar Sauna. Swim, sit, supper. Following this, a properly Australian ‘barbie’ patio, and of course, a swimming pool and rear greenery that unites the two volumes. The fusion pizazz melds with an emerald glass mosaic, with specialty terrazzo tile sourced from the client's home province of Guangzhou.
Passive principles of ventilation and stack effect was spotted with simple modes of configurability depending on user locations. Awning windows, some motorised, allow variable opening sizes at different ends of the house. In the rear half, raked ceiling configurations suit the solar hot water unit and photovoltaic cells. Roof rainwater collection is used for irrigation and four skylights allow an abundance of natural daylight.
Support and collaboration was provided by Tom the builder, who drove the project to slimmer columns. On-site collaborations were also fuelled by the Engineers, who amended masonry columns to 250mm wide, 5-metre high in-situ concrete columns, and as a surprise to the client, a solid timber cellar stair was suspended by threaded rods and tucked in.
Humility is retained within its spatial vastness where multi-cultural materialities mingle. Contradictory yet complementary – these forces play syllogistically, and importantly, to the satisfaction of the client. The idiom of the ‘Aussie suburban home’ is tossed and turned, yet stronger than ever.