Lenah Valley House

The site is steep-sloping and south-facing at the edge of Lenah Valley. From a narrow, single-vehicle width entry at the end of a suburban cul-de-sac, the site fans out to present a "chest-on" armchair view of Mt Wellington above and beyond over a natural bush valley.

The clients' restrictive budget and minimal brief (essentially a single-person 'bachelor pad') necessitated a simple response based around a container form.

Having established a basic container, widening toward the view of the mountain, an overlay in the form of a linear "diagram" resulted in a greater tectonic and formal clarity. The container form subsequently became a "two-part" composition, consisting of a concrete plinth for the owner's car, connecting back to the street, and the steel container locked onto this primary "earthwork". These elements combine as a primary response to the powerful landscape setting and relationship to Mount Wellington.

The linear quality of the line diagram then led to the further elaboration of the project via a series of interlocked "spirals" that twist in, out and around the basic container as follows:

Wrap - A plate of zincalume wraps around to form the container, instigating the spiral action and culminating in a flip up over a plywood plinth to form a roof.

Line - A line action counteracts the previous spiral, starting as an incision in the roof before turning into a fattened gutter which folds down to frame the entry doors and windows to the deck.

Shadow - This line is in turn counterbalanced by a "shadow" that rolls over the container from the other side, taking in the sliding doors and windows to the deck before forming a "shadow" on the roof and side wall.

This action is completed by the movement of the shadow around the front of the building and up into the interior to form a carpet platform to the living area.

Ground - The action of natural ground rising up to form the end of the deck (when viewed from across the valley) completes the spiral actions, thus anchoring the house by winding the ground plane within the composition itself.

Folly - The density of the superimposed spirals is continued in a blunt interior rendered in a singular plywood 'base' rising up to form joinery items, thus ensuring a "bigness" to the interior that addresses the power of the landscape setting and outlook. A proposed sculpture by Richard Goodwin will be located atop the concrete plinth to provide both a threshold between the suburban street and landscape context of the house and to offset the formal density of the house itself.