River’s Edge House is a warm, private home for a young family returning to Tasmania. With thoughtful planning and authentic textures, the home displays a gentle sequence of intimate spaces, which eventually open to the river below. The original site contained a smaller post war dwelling, which after consideration of the client’s needs as a family, the difficulty posed by structural adaptation of solid concrete block and the building’s position, was deemed nor practical or cost effective to work with.
The relatively tight site, with existing houses close on either side and a fall of approximately 2 metres from street to cliff edge, presented both challenge and opportunity. The client’s brief stated: “a practical, functional family home”; “contemporary…but classic – not something that will date”. They sought split-levels and incorporation of family needs, without the home feeling large. With three young boys and the need for a guest room for extended family, planning required careful consideration. The initial approach was to retreat from the logistics of the program and devise an architecture that spoke of authenticity and durability. An assembly of enduring materials and forms that “slide” into the site to allow a sequence of experiences, and a home that didn’t necessarily feel “new” – moreover warm, secure and private. We felt this was very important for a family returning from several years working overseas, which wished to re-kindle their relationship with Tasmania and create a place that readily felt like home.
The 5 metre height limit was adhered to, and the house is subtly “pushed down” on the streetscape, creating a private entry below street level. The cushioning of the building into the site preserves view corridors for neighbours and public, and sets up the transition through the building, to the river beyond. The home is relatively mute from the street, and reveals itself upon entry. Quieter spaces, such as the children’s bedrooms, are positioned near the entry, with the main spine drawing one downward toward the living zones.
The broader design & structural approach was to develop a raw, durable shell, within which finishes and joinery would orchestrate the whole. In-situ concrete was chosen for its thermal mass & textural qualities, and combined with half-height grey block work and merchant grade Tasmanian Oak. A close working relationship with the builder allowed careful resolution of material connections & detailing. Well oriented double-glazing, thermal mass, an insulated envelope and hydronic heat throughout all contribute to the homes thermal performance. The building’s neutral palette and moderation of scale through the site results in a more deferential relationship to the broader context. Interior space links to the broader milieu via placed openings, allowing for orientation and connection. Peripheral spaces around the building provide options for entertainment, play or watching the moonrise over the river. Exterior and interior fireplaces promote relaxed, open living and take cues from family holidays at their highlands shack.
Rivers Edge won the Residential - New, in the Tasmanian AIA Architecture Awards 2017 and HIA Tasmanian House of the year Award 2017.
The Rivers Edge House sustainability is enhanced through detailing of the envelope, with closed slab edges behind a block work skin, recessed double-glazing throughout and insulated in-situ floor and walls. The well-oriented glazing transfers winter solar gain to thermal mass and a hydronic heating system throughout combine to mitigate overall heating draw. The moderately intimate scale of the living spaces promotes easier heating. The main corridor acts as a thermal bank and ventilation point, in the home’s centre. The home’s predominant durable structure and materials should require less attention over time. The consideration of scale and influence serves to lessen the general impact, both in the streetscape and landscape context. Existing sandstone on-site was preserved and re-purposed for landscaping and wall elements.
River’s Edge House is a home for a young family returning to Tasmania. Through careful planning, the home displays a sequence of intimate spaces, which gradually open to the river below. The client sought a practical incorporation of family needs, without the home feeling large. The building slides into the site, promoting a sense of security and privacy. The spaces feel authentic, warm and durable. This was important for a family returning from working overseas, which wished to create a place that readily felt like home. The house is relatively mute from the street, and reveals itself upon entry. Interior space links outward via placed openings, allowing for orientation and connection. Spaces around the building provide options for entertainment, play, or watching the moonrise over the river. Exterior and interior fireplaces promote relaxed, open living and take cues from family shack holidays.