Text description provided by the architects. Greenacres is located only metres from the ocean cliffs in Merewether, Newcastle, NSW. In their brief, the owners, Basil and Jo, asked for a family home that they could grow old in, with a lift, lots of light, sleek, clean lines and, they tentatively requested: “a window with a view if possible.” Austin Maynard Architects designed them a home which captures the views from almost every space within and around the house.
Greenacres responds to both site and location. Unable to save the original dilapidated house, a new home was constructed on the steep block, a topography that set new and exciting challenges. The varying heights created the opportunity for multiple platforms to view the expansive outlook over the ocean, the Merewether Ocean Baths, and the city of Newcastle.
Stepping down a steep gradient at three levels the house works with the landscape as it terraces down the hill towards the street. The garage is buried at the base of the property, with the entry path and garden weaving beside, up and over the top, through the green roof. The design of the driveway is landscaped to reduce the impact of a large expanse of hard surface in front of the house. A simple, white rectangular form, propped on three giant steel ‘paperclips’, houses the kitchen/ living and dining area, with two bedrooms and a bathroom beneath. At the back of the block is the parent’s bedroom, with a walk-in-robe, ensuite and a study – quiet and private. In the garage a lift provides direct access to all three floors, concealed within the kitchen cabinetry at the third floor level.
Inspired by the macrobinoculars in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, the white suspended living zone was designed to bring the views into focus, like a lens, framing the vista. Capping the end is a light and transparent balcony, with all five sides – the fibreglass floor and linear arrangement of the battened ceiling, balustrade and sides – drawing the eye out.
Build a house in front of an ocean and everything becomes about the view. At Greenacres the deliberate transparency ensures the house never gets in the way of its own view. Whilst sitting in the back garden, working in the study, or showering in the very last room on the block, the great expanse of city and ocean is unimpeded.
The futuristic sci-fi associations extend further, as the white living zone appears to be a different form entirely, hovering or docked to an industrial brick base. The contrast is stark. The recycled bricks, a colourful mixed palette bearing approximately 20% graffiti, provide colour, character and a sense of past. Earthy, textured, heavy and robust. Resting on this brick plinth, is the extruded form, a clean, white steel and panellised, machine-made box.