Fisher Residence

Getting there is half the fun. The house is situated at the end of a lengthy, meandering driveway some distance from the street. For the client this is a sort of ritual of approach, of leaving behind the everyday world; an issue of privacy. At the same time there is an anticipation of a view which is sensed or remembered but only seen once you arrive at the house and as you enter it. For the first-time visitor this is a delightful surprise, for the client who spends many hours gazing off into this distance it is about memory, place and belonging.

The site is quintessentially Australian; grassy paddocks interrupted by clusters of massive trees bent into shape from many years of exposure to heavy coastal winds. In the distance is the beach. It is the kind of land that reminds us what it is to be Australian.

The design is highly site responsive. To the South East are the views to the sea but from this point come the coastal winds. The building is firm, heavy and settled, the bulk of the house effectively acting as a wind-break to shelter warm outdoor spaces to the North defined by a grid of concrete pavers. Careful positioning of a variety of glass window sizes on both the North and South Elevations provide framed view corridors from these outdoor areas right through the building to maintain a connection with the sea without compromising shelter. In a sense this sheltering means that the front of the house is really the back of the house.

While the main bulk of the building is anchored to the ground a playful, scooped roof element evokes the curved roof entrances to a Japanese Pagoda; the client's interest in Japanese design also came to influence the large, pivoting front door and the feel of the interior. The response to the site however is also metaphorical; treated pine posts tilted on angles are reminiscent of the nearby trees and the purple colour of the exterior acts like a bridge between the green of the surrounding grasses and the blue of the sky in the same why that the finishing of a sunset marks the horizon with fleeting moments of extraordinary colour.

The plan is programmed linearly into six zones articulated in section by changes in level following the fall of the land and in plan by diagonally offsetting each zone so that all the main rooms have views dynamically captured by butt-joined glass corner windows. Particular to this client and her family are a number of details. These include a sky lit corridor with a full height wall of shoe storage placed crucially next to the garage as well as a rumpus room used to connect the bedrooms of the client's two sons to encourage independent communication between them.