Designing a house on a hillside plot is a challenging task.
But it can be well worth the effort, as seen in this design by Peter Stutchbury Architects. Located in Sydney’s northern beach area, the Cabbage Tree House is set amidst a beautiful natural landscape.
To make the best of the space available, the house is set into the hill. Multiple levels of the house thus become stepping stones connecting the creek at the base to the top of the hill. With a sloping facade, the house almost disappears into the hill, leaving only the outward extrusions visible from below. The concrete extrusions bring a cave-like atmosphere to the interiors, offset by the softness of the brick wall finish and the abundant natural lighting.
The plateau at the top of the hill acts as the entry to the house. The kitchen, living, dining and bedrooms are all located at this level. A level below houses a second living space, and at the lowermost level near the creek is a bath. The openness of the architecture and the large glass windows connects the indoor and outdoor spaces like a natural extension. A terrace garden, a luxurious swimming pool, and a courtyard all provide spaces for recreation and relaxation.
Each of the interior spaces here are designed thoughtfully. Keeping in line with the restrained simplicity of the structure, the interior surfaces use exposed bricks on the walls, with concrete flooring and ceilings. Light wooden furniture combine with the pale colored bricks, grounded by dark grey pieces interspersed through the interiors. Copper and red furniture pieces bring a brightness to this scheme, as does the artwork and decor. With exposed natural material finishes on the surfaces awash in sunlight and a verdant view of the surroundings, the house feels more like a nature retreat than a residential dwelling.
Keeping the house energy efficient and comfortable through the changing weather was a priority for the architects. To achieve this, the structure is designed to face the winter sun and channel the cool summer breeze throughout the house. As the house is built into a hill, lighting is also of equal importance. Sloping windows allow natural light to permeate into the depths of the rooms. A large circular skylight in the kitchen and dining area create a well of sunlight. The skylight also offers the ability to enjoy the beauty of the night sky while relaxing indoors.
Living in this beautiful house is a dream come true for its inhabitants. Away from the rush of the city life, they feel more connected to nature in the Cabbage Tree House . Every day here is filled with sunlight and a sense of joy, which is after all, the true measure of success for a good design.
Photography Derek Swalwell