Contemporary Living at Narrabeen House, Australia
Narrabeen is a suburb with housing plots and street layouts characteristic of the ‘garden suburb’ ideals espoused by early 20th-century Australian town planning. The contemporary house, which was built in 2009, sits in this historical context amongst the other two storey family homes with each dutifully addressing a quiet, tree-lined street. It is a safe and familiar setting; no hint is given of the spectacular fresh water lagoon flowing to the ocean through each house’s backyard.
Two key planning strategies were constructed.
First of all, a central courtyard is introduced as the principal organising element for the planning with all of the house’s key shared spaces – living room, dining room, kitchen, study and swimming pool – grouped around the courtyard to connect these spaces visually, and physically when the courtyard walls are opened up.
Secondly, the planning is composed to deliberately isolate the occupant from the suburban surrounds to heighten the sense of oasis and privacy. This process begins at the street bringing visitors through a succession of exterior spaces that gradually compress and remove the street context through a composition of fences, full height screens and thresholds.
The entry sequence eventually terminates at a solid doorway where the sense of intrigue peaks. Rather than entering into a hallway, one arrives in the courtyard where the full extent of the private domain, the lagoon and island are revealed and any sense of the outside world removed. Images courtesy of Simon Whitbread and Choi Ropiha Fighera.
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