by Meghna MehtaJul 29, 2020
Located in an eastern suburb of Sydney, Australia, this house designed by Australian architecture firm Durbach Block Jaggers Architects stands out like a block of exposed concrete. Partners of the firm, Neil Durbach, Camilia Block and David Jaggers, who usually name their projects after clients, have recently designed the House Taurus in a serene location by the bay. Placed on the harbour of the Point Piper town, as the name suggests, the site is located in a city surrounded by water on all three sides in eastern Sydney. The house optimises the views that the city offers while posing as an example of modern and contemporary brutalist architecture, much like a piece of a modern artistic installation slicing into the fabric of the city.
Durbach shares what they believe the design was meant to do, “House Taurus is a project of robust polarities. The site is both idyllic and compressed. The house is a combination of a villa and infrastructural elements, both introverted and open, with views both generous and focused.”
The site, directly adjacent to Sydney harbour and a private beach, has an evidently dramatic change from street to lowest level through a narrow panhandle, with exaggerated views of a part of the harbour. Liberal landscaping, fig trees and jetties bracket this astonishing sea-level connection to the beach. An over-scaled apartment building overlooks the site on the northern boundary while the neighbouring structure to the east is substantially higher and overlooks the rear of the site.
Upon arrival, once the cars are hidden, the views are free to create a sculptural sequence, engaging with the natural beauty of the place through thoughtfully choreographed moves. The lift drops one from 18m level down to 35m level into a long entry hall connecting directly to the first floor level of the house. The arched entrance is sculpted to exaggerate the perspective to provide framed views of the harbour. Circular skylights on the roof bring an element of animation to the spaces below.
“The living room has been placed as close as possible to the beach in plan and in section, and sits lightly on a sculpted and landscaped stone base,” says Block. The level of this room was lowered by four metres to link it directly to the beach and harbour, using neatly landscaped stairs. The beach room has been created using softened geometries and archaic materials. The room has been rendered as open and light as possible while maintaining a seamless connect with the garden and pool court. The 16.6 metre lap pool bridges between the stone retaining wall at the harbour edge and house, passing under its high volume. “The pool always has a sunny end, a partly shaded middle and a cave or grotto with reflected light. The pool captures the romance of the site, swimming from rock to water, into and out of bright sunlight,” adds Jaggers.
The lower floor welcomes the natural surrounds with clear views and the frontal glass façade that opens up into the private beach of the villa. The upper floors have been imposed with an off-form concrete, like a water-softened pebble, with precise framed openings for the more private spaces framing views, and lit by a double-height central courtyard.
With its clean minimalism, the brutalist effect of exposed concrete and an artistic appearance much like that of a concrete pebble, the house instills a new contemporary energy into the fabric of the Australian bayside city.
Name: House Taurus
Location: Point Piper, Sydney, Australia
Area: 485 sqm
Time taken from conception to construction: 2 years
Time taken for construction: 2.5 years
Architects: Durbach Block Jaggers Architects Pty Ltd
Design team: Neil Durbach, Camilla Block, David Jaggers, Sarah Kirkham, Stefan Heim, Deb Hodge, Xiaoxiao Cai, Mitchell Thompson
Collaborators: Client Representative-Leon Fink
Builder: Bellevarde Constructions
Structural Engineer: M+G Consulting
Interior Design: Richards Stanisic
Landscape Architect: Myles Baldwin Design
Brand collaborators: Precision Flooring, Timber Flooring;