Crescent Head house is a pared back one bedroom home for a couple with generous and dynamic spaces. The house is expressed as a very simple single storey weatherboard box from the street. It sits on a stone base, which drops away to house a 3 bedroom apartment for guests on the garden side.

Project Name: Crescent Head House
Studio Name: Madeleine Blanchfield Architects
Location: Crescent Head, Australia
Photography: Robert Walsh

Crescent Head House by Madeleine Blanchfield Architects - Sheet1
Living Room ©Robert Walsh

The spatial planning of the main house is open and flowing, with downplayed delineation between bedroom, bathroom and other areas. Being for a couple the need for typical separation of rooms was not required. The entry area is sky-lit and the front door glazed to create a welcoming, though understated street address. A sense of light and openness is embraced throughout. Natural vaulted timber ceilings fold out from the entry area and enhance the beautiful ocean and mountain views.

The house is located on a hill nestled amongst other houses. There are many pitched roofs in the surrounding context. We took the pattern of pitching visible from a distance and inverted it. The house has a flat roof line but the angled underside relates to the surrounding structures. Planning controls in the local area have recently changed and the height / bulk permitted on our site is distinctly greater than the existing neighbouring dwellings.

Crescent Head House by Madeleine Blanchfield Architects - Sheet2
View From Balcony ©Robert Walsh

We had to work to minimise the obtrusiveness of the house while maximising the clients amenity and responding to the existing conditions. It is likely that existing adjacent dwellings will be upgraded and made larger so this had to be factored in. The house is honest and humble from the street with an increasing sense of drama as the main living space, with its playfully folded timber ceiling, is revealed. The voluminous spaces enhance the appreciation of views and natural surroundings.

Entering the main space on has a sense of arrival and of a shedding of the outside world to arrive in a private but open and joyful cocoon. The lower level apartment has polished concrete floors, Australian hardwood internal doors and solid timber benches and details in the bathrooms. It has a large, high ceilinged living/dining/kitchen space which blurs the boundary between inside and outside and has a sense of living in the outdoors/camping. The project treats the house as a whole, rather than separating the interiors and the architecture.

Crescent Head House by Madeleine Blanchfield Architects - Sheet3
Bathroom ©Robert Walsh

Its use of materiality and volume are driven by the site, views, sunlight and the environment. Cross ventilation, solar protection, heat sinks and the use of locally sourced materials were all fundamental to the design. Raw concrete floors and minimal finishes in bathrooms address the brief for a pared back and honest character.

They are also thoughtfully sustainable in the minimal wastage and layering of materials over each other. The budget was also kept down by minimising the layering and superficiality of materials. The construction and materials are simple, cost effective but impeccably detailed. Working remotely with local builders and joiners required sensitivity to the techniques and materials available for use and efficient communication of the design intent.

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