Sugar Gum House has a sculptural simplicity; a clean, rectangular composition of brick and glass. Designed for a semi-retired couple, the compact footprint measures 21 by 10 metres over two levels. The gradient of the site and the need to maintain two significant sugar gum trees determined the building location and scale. Situated on a large property in an elevated area of Willunga, the design was restricted to the upper portion between the road and trees to minimise site impact and maximise views to the land and sea.
From the street, the low, flat roof and white painted irregular brickwork has somewhat of a humble presence. The applied mortar finish provides a textural, rustic quality and stained cedar battens add a contrasting detail to disguise the double garage door. An oversized custom glass pivot door to the entry creates transparency through the stairwell, offering a glimpse of the view beyond. The dramatic rear elevation reveals two levels of floor to ceiling glazing, which creates a light-filled home with a strong connection to the landscape.
The upper level lounge, dining, and kitchen open up to a large external area with integrated wood oven, providing an undercover second living space. The absence of a rear balcony maintains unobstructed views from the interior. Northern sun penetrates the external space through a linear slot opening in the far wall and roof, a subtle but effective subtraction from the building form.
On the lower level, the bedrooms, bathrooms, study and laundry all open directly to the garden. Wide frameless corridor openings with pivot doors create a seamless transition between spaces, also allowing for future access requirements as the clients grow older.
The restrained palette of external materials merges effortlessly with the interior design. White painted brick continues throughout, alongside burnished concrete and American Walnut, black and white joinery elements and Corian to wet areas. Simplicity of form with refined detailing and efficient spatial planning creates a highly liveable environment.
Premium German-engineered windows and sliding doors with performance triple-glazing were a considerable cost to the project, however, the increased control of solar heat gains is a significant outcome. The clients have made allowance for additional adjustable external louvres but are yet to install them. The existing gum trees have successfully provided shade and contribute greatly to the outlook.
The house is a long-awaited home for the clients who moved from California some 30 years ago, in which to truly relax, host international visitors, share their love of food and wine, and to enjoy the landscape that brought them to the McLaren vale region.