Set in the hills in northern NSW the Contemplation House has a wondrous view of the sea and sky, and sits on a hill set in a private rural and rainforest setting. The changing phases of nature change the experience of living in this house from day to day.
The owners are very interested in Indigenous cultures and these philosophies are reflected in the design. The idea of the life of a man being a circle from childhood to childhood, and of connectivity with nature was a starting point for the design.
The planning for the house is generated using these philosophical ideas, and the journey through the house is circular in nature. The views through the house are never static, and constantly orient and inform you. The scale of the house is intimate and engaging.
The living area responds to the northern sun and the easterly views to the ocean. It forms a protective wing to the north-easterly winds. The house is planned in a U shape around a central garden area. A contemplation space, which is at the core of the house, has also become the heart of the house. It is a space to sit and just to be, a source of stillness and quietness, a place to reflect and think.
Outlooks out to garden areas occur on both the northern and southern sides, and all round, as the garden intersects with the house. The landscape design is by Jane Irwin Landscape Architects and she has used a palette of materials that relate to the local bushland area. There has also been an enormous amount of bush regeneration undertaken by the client, with species endemic to this particular area.
Each wing is easily accessed from the main entry, and the central garden, as well as being a focal point, becomes a short cut from the living room to the children’s play area, outside circular deck, and study. The bedroom wing, which is on the southern side, looks both east towards the ocean and west.
In the foreground of the house (to the east) sitting at the top of the hill are the remnants of the original house, from many years past, but this area becomes an iconic sitting spot at the end of the day. This is an “off the grid” house. The entire roof is covered with solar panels and there is battery storage in the garage. Not only does the house consume no energy from the grid but the owners get a large rebate every quarter.
Recycled materials (greyed off hardwood) have been used throughout for the entire cladding. Internally recycled blackbutt wall cladding and floors are used everywhere. There are no VOCs used inside the house. The materials have a tactile quality that makes you want to touch and feel the surfaces. Not only do they have a nurturing quality to them, but they also reflect ideas of connection to land and life itself.