Five Gardens House: A Triumphant Homage to the Australian Landscape

Project Name
Five Gardens House
Project Type
Graybuilt Pty Ltd
David Boyle

For the owners of Five Gardens House, it was imperative the appreciation they have for their surrounding landscape in Sydney’s Middle Harbour, be thoughtfully weaved into the renovation and extension of their original mid-century home.

Built in 1956, the red brick and tile, 2-storey home sits on a sloping block, it had very little street appeal and no connection to its picturesque surrounds beyond the front door.


Award-winning architect David Boyle transformed the suburban modernist house into a celebratory expression of mid-century modern design and the connection to both the bushland setting and its spectacular harbour views.


“The back of the house looked out onto a striking bush outcrop and an amazing old Eucalypt. The owners wanted to hero this view from various points within the home, so the most logical response was a roof with windows and a framed solution,” explains David.

EasyLap™ Panel by James Hardie was used for the batten style cladding on the roof primarily for its functionality and performance over time.

“The landscape was extremely steep, and we wanted to connect each part of the house to an outside feature. A lightweight solution like the HardieTM exterior cladding products was the most appropriate given the landscape. They were also complementary to the existing structure, providing pattern and texture reminiscent of mid-century design,” David added.


Vertical battens around the roof, garage façade and garage door, made the utilitarian space disappear into the design, which resulted in a visibly neater streetscape. While David’s use of randomly spaced battens is a nod to the random beauty of the landscape.

“Often, modern architecture is equal and measured, in a complete juxtaposition our landscape is varied, unequal and somewhat opportunistic. By varying the spacing of the battens, we were able to mimic the environment and provide a character that’s missing in modern design,” said David.

Axon™ Cladding by James Hardie was used to create a grooved balustrade that not only provides privacy but a point of interest and differentiation from the rest of the house. Already familiar with Axon™ from past projects, David chose the product because it is economical, performs well over time and is easy to install. However, it’s the product’s versatility that makes it stand out.


“The balustrades breakdown the mass of a solid blank wall to make it more of a human scale and create balance,” David comments.

Of course, there are always changes and compromises that need to be made during a build, but David says each change should be used as an opportunity to make things better, there should be no evidence that any compromise has been made. “On this project, we had to alter the shape of the roof over the back balcony, due to strict council guidelines on overshadowing neighbouring properties. By turning the angle of the roof 15 degrees, we not only solved the issue, we were actually able to lead the eye to a longer view of the harbour,” said David.

The result was a triumphant homage to the Australian landscape in keeping with mid-century modern style.

“The Hardie™ exterior cladding products can modernise the look and style of a house but they’re also in keeping with the way people used materials in the ‘50s and ‘60s – architects of that time weren’t averse to patterns and colour and that was a great thing,” David finished.

Architect: David Boyle Architect

Builder: Graybuilt Pty Ltd

Photographer: Brett Boardman Photography

Awards: 2019, Hugh and Eva Buhrich Award for Residential Architecture – Houses (Alterations and Additions), NSW Architecture Awards, Australian Institute of Architects.

2019, National Commendation for Residential Architecture – Houses (Alterations and Additions), National Architecture Awards, Australian Institute of Architects.

2019, Winner - House Additions/Alterations/Renovations, Master Builders Association.

For more information on Hardie™ exterior cladding products visit our Cladding Solutions page.

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