The Cloister by MORQ located in Perth, Australia | The Hardt
The Cloister by MORQ located in Perth, Australia. MORQ describe The Cloister House as an “enclosed house” and this is the fundamental idea around which the rest of the project coalesces. While the spaces are arranged around a central void, the name Cloister House is not so much a typological reference to the cloister but instead a reference “to the idea of an enclosure and the creation of an inward and protected world” says MORQ. The idea of the cloister and the conception of the house as a place of retreat is felt not only in the spatial arrangement but in the structure’s raw materiality and treatment of light and space. Rammed concrete walls (created in the ancient technique called ‘pise’) are unadorned with further embellishment, the material’s textural qualities and sheer mass creating a powerful presence. It is reflective of MORQ’s considered approach to materiality, as Andrea explains “We believe the use of only a few materials generates a sort of harmonized background that in turn places the emphasis on the space and the inhabitants’ lives within”. The Cloister House’s material palette is limited to the rammed concrete, washed timber for the roof structure and joinery and concrete tiles for the floor (either ascetic or luxuriant display of restraint, depending on one’s perspective).
“Structure, matter, and light are inextricably linked”, says Emiliano. “The proportion of these rooms, their relationships and the natural light define the atmosphere and create a variety of scenarios.” Light is reflected by the courtyard walls throughout the day and chromatically filtered by the vegetation, alighting here and there, serving to literally and figuratively highlight particular details of the design. The monolithic concrete illuminated by carefully directed rays of light creates a monastic atmosphere, making the project’s name particularly apt. Pared back to the absolute essential qualities of structure, light, and space, the distractions and confusions of the outside world are stripped away. Reflection and contemplation become natural pursuits in such a place. This clear affinity with such reverent architecture can be traced to the architects’ connection to Italy, with its long history of religious architecture through the temples of the ancient Roman empire and later, the Roman Catholic tradition. All three founding directors, Matteo Monteduro, Emiliano Roia, and Andrea Quagliola, studied architecture at the La Sapienza University of Rome. Today, MORQ are located in Rome and Perth. “We often asked ourselves why we have this interest in raw and honest materials. The answer is always the same: Rome”, Emiliano says. “These are materials that tell you a story, materials that are washed out by the time; materials with a natural feeling and texture. This background surrounded us since we were young. I think we registered this unconsciously in the past and now it is echoing in our works.”
While the architects’ inspiration from their Roman context is clearly felt in The Cloister House, it is also created in response to its location in the suburbs of Perth. This is true on two levels – one, the harsh sun and strong winds of Australia’s west-coast climate had an impact on the design, and two, the suburban site, devoid of any defining or worthwhile features, prompted the focus inward. This rather unusual example of almost reverse-inspiration was necessitated by “a context with no interests or quality whatsoever”, Andrea says. With a busy road to the front of the block, to get full advantages from the restricted size of the subdivided lot, and “acknowledging that the immediate context did not have any qualities worth emphasizing, we decided that the house had to look inwards”, he explains. “Quite unashamedly, the house turns its back on the unremarkable suburban context, shielding its inhabitants from the busy street and creating an inner world.” The design’s non-typical response is also felt in its approach to the typology of the family home. The clients’ request was nothing out of the ordinary – a home for themselves and their visiting two adult sons. This drove the architects to continuously ask themselves to further understand the program of a simple family home at a deeper, more fundamental level. In doing so, they reached the idea of the central void, which divides the house into an area devoted to the parents and another section with quarters for their sons or visiting guests. “In this way, the everyday activities of the two inhabitants are continuously framed by the central void, the main source of natural light”, Andrea says. Above all, The Cloister House is a place “within which one can dwell peacefully – softly lit, relaxing, with a distinct material presence and texture”, says Emiliano. It exemplifies the architects’ search to distill and define the central design ideas’ essence, doing away with all but the most useful truths in pursuit of the idea. In a design sense, it may always be more difficult to ‘remove’ than to ‘add’, yet it is through a commitment to this simple principle that MORQ’s design achieves such exceptional clarity.
Photos Givlio Aristide
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Solis Residence by Renato D’Ettorre Architects, located on Hamilton Island, Australia | The Hardt
Solis Residence by Renato D’Ettorre Architects, located on Hamilton Island, Australia. The residence is sculpted from concrete, stone, block work and glass resulting in a sequence of dramatic volumes incorporating airy living spaces and private sheltered outdoor zones. The building elements are intertwined with reflection ponds and a swimming pool, lending a sense of tranquility. Every level of this house, every turn, and every vantage point provides enormous surprise and delight. Corners of the house float above the terraced landscape, garden terraces and nooks set into the hillside, which features natural stone retaining walls and continuing encounters with water pools and ponds. The house was the recipient of the House of the Year project at the Australian Institute of Architects’ 2011 Central Queensland Regional Architecture Awards.
The house changes its mood on the descent. The upper living areas are light-filled and airy, with little distinction between indoor and outdoor space. In fact, only a small section of this floor can be closed down by screens to provide security, particularly during tropical storms. The lower reaches of the house are more cavernous – cool bedroom chambers, again formed on the ocean views. The palette is concrete and travertine, designed for easy, maintenance-free, cool living in the tropics while acting as a calm counterpoint to complex spatial and sculptural interactions. Terraces are fluid extensions of internal spaces capturing cooling breezes. Swimming pools, reflection ponds and strategically positioned trickling waterfalls soothe both indoors and outdoors. The house is also built to withstand the destructive forces of tropical cyclones. The client had asked for low maintenance materials – so concrete became the primary material.
Located in Torquay, Victoria, Australia, Torquay House (2012) by Wolveridge Architects | The Hardt
Located in Torquay, Victoria, Australia, Torquay House (2012) by Wolveridge Architects. This project attempts to challenge our traditional notions of how buildings can exist both in a coastal environment and in this case also the context of an emerging built form and character. In coastal conditions, buildings must be robust and defy the elements, yet create protective spaces, both internal and external which for us allow the occupants to feel safe, comfortable, privacy and enjoyment of good times. Whether the occupants are fulltime residents or weekenders, the beach house is a place to look forward to arriving, whether in the heat of the summer or the winter’s cold. With excellent views to the north and south and a conscious motivation to avoid the east/west outlooks, this project evolved as a series of interconnected and robustly finished containers. Each prescribed to a rigid set of rules and the relationship and spaces between containers becoming essential to the program and to the life of the building. The robust mass of the buildings is intended to be offset by the expression of finely considered detail and proportion. It is the private spaces created in between that allow natural ventilation and light, intimate outlooks, and privacy for the occupants, a place to call home.
© Derek Swalwell
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Blairgowrie Back Beach (2013) by Wolveridge Architects situated in Blairgowrie VIC, Australia | The Hardt
Blairgowrie Back Beach (2013) by Wolveridge Architects situated in Blairgowrie VIC, Australia. The clients for this project approached us around Easter in 2011. They are a young family from the city who had purchased this terrific sloping allotment just five minutes’ walk from back beach along Bass Strait. The landform was dominated by an awkward contour and it was clear that the site was halfway up a dune. The block to the west was the top of the dune and the vacant block to the east was the bottom. There was native vegetation, but it was sporadic and insignificant. We were briefed to provide a family home that would give plenty of outdoor space and play area for the kids and their friends, but most importantly the brief insisted that the feel of the house be quite divorced from reminders of life in the city. We studied the landform and we studied the planning requirements. We then prepared a building envelope, placing the dwelling as far to the rear (south) of the lot as possible, providing a terrific expanse of open space to the north. By the time we pushed the form back, it was significantly elevated.
As the founding materials are sand, we undertook a major rethink of the landform and the site’s contours by excavating under the dwelling area to create a large undercroft and lower ground floor rumpus area and used that fill to create a north facing quadrangle at the upper level. The result is an apparent single story, low slung dwelling on arrival. A further challenge contemplated the public aspect. The road is located north of the site, therefore a driveway for car parking and arrivals needed to consider how we might plan to make this open space private. We employed a permeable but physical barrier dissecting the public and private aspects of the dwelling. The form of the barrier, a series of free-standing steel sheets with 100mm gaps exists as a sculptural element in the landscape, evoking images of the found object. Access to the dwelling is external, via a garden path defined by a further device, a line of pillars constructed from rammed earth also emerging as objects in the landscape, seemingly molded by the conditions over time. This element clearly defines the public and private realms, yet provides crossovers and transitional spaces in the form of a sandpit, an outdoor shower area, and landscape planting zones. The dwelling itself is conceived over four main modules. Two main living zones separated by a services zone which is located directly over the rumpus room below. The fourth module is the semi roofed external living area, linking the dwelling interior with the landscape. The clients embraced a robust approach to the design of the dwelling. The plan form is rectilinear, with hallways wide enough for kids to ride their bikes. A second linking bbq deck completes the circuit. The materials are generally recycled timbers, with blackened plywood walls, a black ceiling which encourages the enjoyment of light and the externally framed views of the landscape. The bathrooms are glossy heat treated mild steel which reflects the color of the mosaic tiled floors and the shafts of light from the skylights. At night, the sheets imbue a warmth in the reflection of incandescent light.
One of the owners grew up in Eltham, a rural bushland retreat east of the city in a house designed by Alistair Knox. The imagery portrayed by the client of a childhood memory growing up in a Knox dwelling had a significant impact on the project. We considered the use of breeze block and concrete block to provide reminders and links back to notions of the surf clubhouse. Through the development of the design, these elements became more refined with the use of rammed earth and the implementation of laser cut screens employing one of the common motifs of the breeze block.
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Crescent House (2013) by Andrew Burns Architect located in Sydney, Australia | The Hardt
Crescent House (2013) by Andrew Burns Architect located in Sydney, Australia. ‘Crescent House’ is the first in an annual series of temporary pavilions to be installed at Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation in Paddington, Sydney. The aim of this ‘Fugitive Structures’ program is to engage a wide audience with architectural thought. Two arcs are set within an apparently simple rectilinear form. The arcs bisect, creating a pair of infinitely sharp points and a threshold to the space beyond. This combination of fragility and robustness seeks to charge the conversations within the space with a particular quality. Slide thru TheHardt.com to check the rest of the project. Link. Bio. Click. The #homedesign #homedecor #courtyard #australia #australian
The structure has an ambiguous presence; between architecture and art object. Through framing, it transforms an ordinary rose apple hedge into a landscape of beauty. The pavilion responds to elemental themes; darkness and light, the wonder offered by the night sky and the burnt quality of yaki-sugi (charred cedar) recalling the presence of bushfires on this continent. The pavilion and has been initiated and supported by Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, BVN Donovan Hill, Andrew Cameron Family Foundation and the Nelson Meers Foundation.
© Brett Boardman
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