Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Husker Du II : By Ellen Woolley Architect

Forestville, Sydney, Australia
Ellen Woolley Architect

Post By:Kitticoon Poopong
via:archrecord--By Ingrid Spencer

Photo © Richard Glover/VIEW
According to architect Ellen Woolley, the only thing that the Husker Du II house she designed on Sydney’s north shore has in common with the pioneering 80s punk band of the same name is that this house, like the band, is one of a kind. "The architecture is a bit of a creature in and of itself," says the Australian architect, who designed the 1,292-square-foot Husker Du II as a home and refuge for two Sydney "nature lovers and technology freaks."

Photo © Richard Glover/VIEW 
The house sits on a precipitous slope of nearly 45 degrees in the midst of the idyllic Sydney landscape—sandstone cliffs dropping toward native bushland and a harbor estuary below. The clients specified just one thing for their home: a curve. Woolley did not disappoint. The two-floor house, with its lightweight masonry structure and curving Zincalume (zinc aluminum alloy coated steel) exterior, sits like a cool, metal barrel with its back to the south. "The house morphs from a tree house to a cave," says Woolley, describing how the barrel, a simple volume from the exterior, becomes more complex within. A wooden ramp draws visitors into the space or guides them out to the surrounding landscape of bedrock peppered with natural frog-pond gullies. Inexpensive building materials ("the budget was anorexic," says Woolley), such as telephone-pole columns and pine-timber framing, provide structure for the compact plan consisting of a kitchen, dining and lounge areas, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a deck. The curved white ceiling is a soft zenith to the stacked boxlike geometries of rooms and built-in elements like window-seat perches and a deep bench in the living room. Primary colors help to articulate the boxlike elements.

Photo © Richard Glover/VIEW
The tight budget prompted Woolley to get creative. Sturdy slats of treated pine over the windows block out harsh sunlight, eliminating the need for shades or curtains. A mixture of a floor varnish called Black Japan, cut with linseed oil and mineral turpentine gives the wood an elegant finish without a high cost. A lack of gutters on the curved roof lets rain fall freely off the south side into the ponds below, while a rainwater tank catches water to be used for garden irrigation. 

Photo © Richard Glover/VIEW
Although Husker Du II, in all its curvaceous splendor, replaces an ordinary, 70s steel box in a neighborhood of other uninspiring homes, Woolley got no arguments from the local housing authorities on the design. "I thought we’d be hammered for it!" says the architect, who admits she made 50 working models before she and the client were ready to present the design to the authorities. "I think they were really impressed with the sustainable qualities of the house, such as the rainwater tank, the non-reflectiveness of the Zincalume, and the way the house sits so gently on the site." Woolley says the fact that the site (with its sheer drop) was not ideal for the pre-existing home may also account for the city’s hearty approval of the current eye-catching design. "The house is truly made for its site," she says. And her recent visit there proved that more than just the clients consider their new home a refuge. "The Kookaburras have returned and seem to have taken up residence right outside."

Photo © Richard Glover/VIEW 

Gross square footage:
1292 sq. ft.

Total construction cost:

the People
Jon Marsden
Ellen Woolley Architect
95 Sunnyside Crescent
NSW 2068
+61 2 9967 8289
+61 2 9215 4901
Ellen Woolley Director
Baigents Engineers
+61 2 9929 7511
Environmental Analyst:
Jason Veale
+61 2 9762 8400
General contractor
Fusion Productions
+61 2 410 586 350
Richard Glover/VIEW
+61 2 9552 2214
CAD system, project management, or other software used
Archicad www.graphisoft.com
the Products
Structural system
Hybrid Pole Frame and curved Structural Steel Beams
Exterior cladding
Metal/glass curtainwall:
Zincalume flat sheet www.zincalume.com
“Koppers” logs and traded pine stained with Black Japan, Raw Linseed Oil and Turps.
Curved Colorbond corrugated sheet
Custom with formply shutters
Interior finishes
Paints and stains:
Dulux Paints www.dulux.com.au
Special surfacing:
Spotted Gum Timber Flooring

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