architect: Glenn Murcutt
location: Paddington, Sydney, New South Wales
The house built for the Magneys, owners of the house in Jamberoo (Bingie Point) appears as a variation in the rhythm of the sequence of row houses in the Victorian district of Paddington in Sydney. In fact, the project consisted of the transformation of a “terrace house” understood as a reflection, in a tectonic key, on the theme of the residence. The alteration, which leaves the southern facade with the main entrance unchanged, takes the form of a contrast between the lightness of the new suspended floors in the interior and the massive basement and the existing lateral walls. In this work one may distinguish clear references to Mies Van der Rohe and to Luis Barragan, which suggest possible different keys of interpretation of this project as to typology, morphology and materials. The clear division in three parts of the plan identifies the central area of the house, with the customary sequence of common spaces: kitchen, dining room and living room which seems to continue into the garden through the large glazed front. All accessory areas and the stair are aligned along the western elevation, while the bathroom and utility rooms are arranged along the eastern one. The relationship with the space of the garden is not simply a fact of functional proximity and perceptive continuity; it is conceived as a space with a strong poetic valence.
Light is the fundamental element of the project; it changes as one passes through the house, starting from the less illuminated areas by the entrance to arrive to the southern facade, where the light flooding in through the large glazed front dissolves the separation between interior and exterior. In spite of this large window, the house is very secluded thanks to a carefully studied section which exploits the different altitudes of the plot. In fact, thanks to the creation of a semi-underground parking area in the lower part, it is impossible for those who walk in the narrow street below to see what happens on the upper platform of the private garden overlooking the sea.