The Birdcage House
The client’s family home – since dubbed The Birdcage by locals – arose from a sincere passion for the project, shared enthusiastically by both client and architect. The client sensed that the steep site, whilst difficult, had a potential to capture views of the local valley, Cooper park and beyond to Bondi. The architectural response to this slope was to divide the stratum of the building into a solid podium, transparent void and dynamic box – a simple strategy that would unfold to create a unique and intense experience for those who would be moving and living across the vertical nature of this site.
The carved Sydney sandstone podium rises at the base of the site, hewn from its surrounding natural context. The subterranean entrance is illuminated by the glow of the glass-bottomed pool above – the ramp providing a smooth transition, sloping between the masses of water and concrete which together produce a fluid texture of light. The level above reads as a transparent void, and incorporates open living, dining and bathing – enveloping the client’s specific desire for a space that would enrich rather than segregate family living. The dialogue which evolves from the palate of materials achieves this demand, and the space welcomes family play to formal dining.
The topmost floor hovers on a shifted axis, turning towards the sun whilst offering a canopy of protection to living below. The level is wrapped in a brass mesh that acts as a fluid skin, allowing the client to determine the building’s aesthetic, temperature and lightness. From within, the wrapping can either diffuse or frame views – while the perforations dapple light throughout the private spaces in a similar manner to the canopies of surrounding trees. At a distance, this creates the impression of a solid mass which dissolves and solidifies over the course of a day, as the screens are adjusted to varying apertures.
The residence is conceived as two elements; a solid concrete base which is the entry to the home and a perforated brass and timber box which is the private areas of the home. Between these two contrasting cool and warm elements is a negative space that forms an open living platform.
The floor joists exposed to the living platform are Douglas Fir LVLs lightly sanded but still branded and unsealed. These LVLs span over six metres, and at one end are hung from a steel truss that spans 15metres, and cantilevers 7metres. In order to expose the floor joists, a 100mm thick layering of floor materials was designed to mitigate noise transfer between floors.
The internal walls and ceilings of the timber box are lined in a low formaldehyde hoop pine with expressed joints and countersunk screw fixings.
The blackbutt floorboards to this level fold down to clad the lift core and stairs, where the treads are a composite blackbutt cladding and Douglas Fir LVLs.
The project concept exposes the building’s structure and materials and it is this exposure which gives the home its unique complexity and texture.
Project name: The Birdcage House
Location: Sydney, Australia
Type: Contemporary House, Sustainable House
- 2011 Australian Timber design Awards - Winner of The Interior Fitout Award – Residential
- 2011 Australian Timber design Awards - Winner of The Timber Flooring Award
Client / Owner / Developer: Private
Architects: Bureau SRH Architecture
Text Description: © Courtesy of Bureau SRH Architecture, timberawards
Images: © Bureau SRH Architecture