architect: Glenn Murcutt
location: Mosman, Sydney, New South Wales
Mosman is the residential suburb of North Sydney where the house where Murcutt and Lewin live and work is located. Due to the type of project, involving an existing structure, it may serve as an example of their special way to conceive and practice architecture. In fact, when they conceived their dwelling the intention was not so much to create a design object in the maximalist style, as to merely carry out some alterations and additions which met the new functional requirements of their family and made the building environmentally friendly. The differences have mainly concerned the interiors and the back of the part of a semi-detached villa on which works have been carried out in the years between 2000 and 2003, as continuation of the renovation which had already been completed in 1972. With the new arrangement, once one has crossed the threshold, the dynamic elements of the stairs and the narrow corridor lead directly to the more characteristic areas: the children’s bedroom on the first floor and the living room and kitchen on the same floor as the entrance. The other parts of the house are deaf, almost hidden behind white panels which characterize the entire house. The studio is located on the lower floor; isolated from the rest of the house, it communicates directly with the garden. The elongated living room, the heart of the building, feels like a halfway indoor, halfway outdoor space. With its extremely simple and light casing, the large glazed front lets the sunlight pour into the room, which is defined on the opposite side by a blade of light which enters from a narrow cut in the wall. However, the openings not only create a sensation of space; as Murcutt explains, they make it possible to regulate the house, so it may be closed on cold days and opened to let a fresh breeze enter on hot ones, somewhat like a musician tunes his instruments. Ventilation is generated by the chimney effect created between the living room, which has a large glazed front, and the second bedroom on the upper floor, where delicious dormer windows house the beds. The temperature in the dwelling is thus regulated without the use of mechanical devices, in such a way that the actions of the inhabitants play a both functional and cultural role, which may, in the final analysis, be defined as lyric.