The completed stunning ‘Invisible House’ by Peter Stutchbury, Invisible House is located on the western edge of the eastern mountain range of Australia, seamlessly integrating into its surrounds. The rusty steel boxes recall old farm equipment; the undulating curves of the roof slab emulate the rhythm of the encompassing hills; and the flooded roof reflects the sky.
Architect Peter Stutchbury sought to connect this home with the landscape in which it sits, creating a collaboration between art and the wilderness. Just beneath the brow of an eastfacing hill, Angel Wing – formerly known as Invisible House because of its sense of merging into its location – takes advantage of the backdrop by sitting into the slope.
The wide, flat roof is somewhat like a broadrimmed hat, useful for keeping out the sun. When filled with rainwater, it reflects the sky. From the air, the house would be almost unseen; from lower down the valley, its colours mimic those of the surrounding hills.
- The house has been carefully sited on what feels intuitively to be the perfect spot. It’s the sort of place you’d expect to find a mob of kangaroos camping in the shade, or in years gone by a shepherd’s croft. Featuring a grove of trees and a natural contour-cum-platform, it’s tucked under the ridge line, comfortably protected from devastating westerlies and harsh summer sun and light, while offering unobstructed views to the horizon.
- The most extraordinary roof, cantilevering almost four metres west in a series of undulations, shielding the house from the worst weather while drawing filtered light in. Balancing this, a four-metre tapered cantilever reaches out to the east. The overall effect is not unlike a highly refined stockman’s hat.
- Entry to the house is from the ridge top, down a long set of concrete stairs running obliquely across the site much as animal tracks do across slopes and hillsides. Once inside, this sensation of moving naturally through and across country continues – this is a house in which you’re innately aware of the strong connection between internal and external landscapes.
- Angel Wing (aka Peter Stutchbury’s Invisible House) is all concrete and glass, with accents of copper and wood. The main living area is warmed by an open fire, an alluring wavelike timber ceiling and a round red leather sofa that’s a bit like a lazy Susan on steroids. Lie back in what we dubbed the lazy Sally – so named during our visit on account of the person who most liked being in it – pour yourself a glass of champagne and marvel that the mountains out there really do look blue.
Jury Citation: Australian Houses Awards:
There is something absolutely Australian about this project, not just its connection to an undeniably spectacular setting, but also its modesty, clarity, resourcefulness and consequential delight. Being (another) rural retreat with a jaw-dropping view, this project needed to convince the jury that all the moves made to create it are in harmony with its location, and that it is a great piece of architecture in its own right, and this it has.
Its magic is created through balance, such as the gridded rigour of the plan balanced with the bloated curve of the long section, or the transparency of the simple exterior balanced with the solid, albeit sliced, nature of the interior rooms. The form, materials and details are mastered in this house, running from inside to out and then into the landscape as one. From both inside and out, changes in nature are apparent, in wet and dry, hot and cold and through the seasons of the year. This elegant building, looking out from its position nestled into the hilltop, has left us drawn to see more.
Project name: Invisible House
Location: Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Australia
- Type By Characteristic: Contemporary House, Holiday House
- Type By Site: Mountain House, Hill House
- Type By Size: Medium House – (201 sqm – 450 sqm)
- Type By Materials: Concrete House
Site area: 66,000 sqm
Building area: 425 sqm
Completion Year: 2014
Client / Owner / Developer: Private
Architects: Peter Stutchbury Architecture – 5/364 Barrenjoey Rd, Newport Beach, Sydney, Australia 2106
- Peter Stutchbury, John Bohane, Emma Neville, Richard Smith, Sacha Zehnder, Piero Chiefa
Engineer: Professor Max Irvine
- Builder: Dimark Constructions
- Electrical consultant: Electrical Projects Australia
- Energy consultant: Progressive Energy Systems
- Hydraulics: JCL Hydraulics
Text Description: © Courtesy of Peter Stutchbury Architecture, architectureau, Australian Houses Awards
Images: © Peter Stutchbury Architecture, Michael Nicholson