The scale of the new dwelling is deceptive, appearing at first glance as a bungalow, then unfolding internally to disclose the two floors held within the long sleeping block and unexpected 4m-high, pyramidal ceiling heights elsewhere. “We wanted to create a hard object within a soft, crunchy, porous landscape, and to manipulate the scale,” says Steven Connolly. “The form was important. We wanted a hard crust and soft, white, reflective spaces inside.
“We squeezed the first floor in,“ he says. “The upper bedroom floor is supported on cranked steel beams. The windows are deliberately big – 1.5m x 2.25m, with 185mm Iroko styles. A smaller frame would have changed the proportion of the windows. Many of the windows are also doors. The whole house is built on a steel frame with a few cranked beams. The frame went up in three days. The chimney and roof lights, too, are framed out in steel, and drained by internal gutters within the depth of the cut-roof rafters.”
What about the colour? “That was the hardest decision,” he says. “Mum wanted white. Dad said, ‘Ye guys know what’ll work.’ It’s a self-coloured render with mica, a little fleck of it, included – like a mirror ball. It’s a custom colour, based on lots of samples we ordered. We wanted a dark colour to enhance the landscape, to feel grounded within it.”
The fibre cement roof plays an important role in the definition of scale in this dwelling, creating a heavy, monolithic cap to the rendered base. Because the roof slopes are at different pitches, every slate had to be hand-trimmed to ensure the datum lines ran through across the different slopes while also maintaining the required minimum weatherproofing head lap. This is not hard to do, but needs forethought. The hip lines are deliberately expressed to achieve a seamless roof surface with a concealed counter-flashing, while gutters are recessed and downpipes enclosed within the external walls.
Minimalistic. Monolithic. Magic.