Lauriston House by Seeley Architects: a floating sinuous roof placed on a contemporary glass house

Lauriston House by Seeley Architects: a floating sinuous roof placed on a contemporary glass house

Architects: Seeley Architects
Location: Kyneton, Victoria, Australia
Year: 2016
Area: 4.090 ft²/ 380 m²
Photo courtesy: Peter Hyatt

“A deep engagement with the expansive and undulating rural context of the house was the starting point for the design of the Lauriston house, with a design response that simultaneously buries into and leaps from the hilly landscape near Kyneton Victoria. The geometrically aligned rows of olive trees set against a voluptuous landscape evoke a quiet, unspoken tension. The house mimics this tension with the relationship of a meticulously detailed and structured frame against a seemingly effortless floating, sinuous roof.

Inspiration for the material palette was taken from local materials and textures. Messmate timber linings follow the twists of the expressive ceiling, complimented by wide Messmate flooring and French pattern bluestone inspired by the colonial footpaths of Piper Street in nearby Kyneton. The home respects and enhances its environment, offering prospects of retreat and respite, an evocative place for gathering.

The concept for the project was to create a home which would provide a heightened experience of the natural environment by interpreting the qualities of the surrounding landscape into the architectural plan and form. 
An expansive sinuous roof, clear structural rhythm, bold cantilever, recycled natural materials and a linear plan were the techniques employed to realise this concept.

These techniques combine to provide a recessive, yet rich enclosure with a delicately controlled boundary to the external environment. 
Indigenous flora and majestic gums on the site are set against structured olive groves and the proximity of these contrasting settings evokes a sense of tension. The house mimics the tension in its landscape with the relationship of a meticulously detailed, structural frame and a seemingly floating sinuous roof.

The predominately glazed structural frame and cantilever of the building, contribute to the appearance that the house touches its site lightly. Furthermore, the cantilever emphasises the natural fall of the site, creating living areas that float above the ground with expansive view across the heart of the property. Its perpendicular orientation to the existing 1970’s house, creates a threshold on the site, which upon arrival is akin to entering a two-sided walled garden and thereby creating a secluded space within a substantial landscape.

Whilst being a private residence, this house has the potential to contribute to a growing paradigm of contemporary rural architecture, which expresses a uniquely Australian response to shelter.

An elegant linear plan form is employed resolve the program, with public and private spaces arranged either side of a centrally located informal, alfresco entrance. The resolution of the program is reinforced by the sectional relationship of the house to its site. To the east, bedrooms are connected to the land and to a courtyard created with the existing house. To the West, the living areas and deck cantilever over the landscape, offering magnificent views to rolling hills, dams and olive groves.

Passive design solutions, considered energy systems, rainwater capture measures in the design, ensure that the house will provide a cost effective and comfortable enclosure into the future.

Our client’s aspirational brief was that the house should allow a sense of intimacy with the outdoors, particularly with sunsets and the feeling of co-habituating with the abundant wildlife around them. 
The design reinforces the sense of connection to the surrounding landscape, sky and environs from most rooms within the home, therefore affirming one with its sense of place amongst the olive groves and gum trees.

The brief also called for a pragmatic response to the challenge of outdoor entertaining through all seasons. The design responds by providing careful placement and design to shield and shelter from insects, sun, rain and seasonal prevailing winds.”

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