Castle Cove House

This house has been designed to impact as little as possible on the natural surroundings. Flooring floats above the bushland environment and passive design techniques and low energy technology is employed for all services including space and hot water heating and partial air conditioning.

The house was constructed on a steeply sloping, north facing bushland site at Castle Cove. Rather than using the usual approach of sheeting the site with concrete to form a driveway, the garage and the entry are located at the same level as the access road and a cut-and-cover tunnelling technique is used to bury the entry and the garage.

An elevator from the garage and entry level, a travel distance of 9m, accesses the living areas. Rather than the more conventional method of cutting and filling the site and ‘planting’ the building in it, the upper two levels of the house ‘float’ above the landscape.

The construction of the house comprises a lightweight, exposed steel frame with steel pan structural floors and roof topped with concrete. The structural steel columns are the only elements that touch the ground.

The main level comprises a kitchen, dining and lounge module on the west and guest accommodation on the east, with a wide deck overlooking the view on the north and a 25 metre long, 1.8 metre wide toughened glass lap swimming pool and spa linking them.

The environments on the north and south of the house are very different: the north is open and sunny with expansive views over Middle Harbour and the south will be in the shadow of the house and at the bottom of a 10 metre high escarpment. The south is enclosed, sheltered, and substantially sun free.

These different microclimates are used to provide alternative dining and leisure opportunities, with their different characteristics reinforced by the selection of appropriate landscaping species.

To the east of the main level, an enclosed bridge extends out beneath the tree canopies to provide access to a two level, bedroom/studio module. The form of this module is cylindrical and vertical, emphasising the termination of the expansive horizontality of the house beneath the trees. The roof of the bridge forms a deck to the bedroom of the uppermost level.

A separate glass block enclosed stair that assists the illumination of the void adjacent accesses the uppermost level. This stair connects to a corridor that extends along the north side of this level and provides access to the bedrooms. The corridor is open to and overlooks the corridor on the level below.

The house employs passive design techniques and low energy, leading edge technology for all services including space and hot water heating and partial air conditioning.

Rainwater collected from the roof will be recycled and used for the swimming pool, garden areas and an external drenching system that will activate automatically in the event of a bush fire.