Starting a new chapter in life is an exciting prospect and one that homeowners Greg and Rose were ready to embrace when they found a unique block of land in Kings Meadows, Tasmania, which would enable them to build an equally unique home. Following a lengthy and fruitless search for an existing home, Greg and Rose realised a new build would give them scope to create a modern home that would accommodate their needs as they moved into the next stage of their lives.
Launceston is built on hilly terrain and whilst the chosen site for this build was an extreme slope affording incredible views across the valley below, it did pose a challenge when settling on a design. The homeowners approached S. Group architect Josh Upston to design a house that was sympathetic to the block. They provided Josh with just two briefs; the first to create a bridge or boardwalk to the house that was level with the road above and the second was to incorporate a tower.
“Given the slope, the whole intention from the client was to allow for a level easy access point to the home and to maximise the incredible views,” said Josh Upston, Associate Architect of S. Group. “S. Group were familiar with the area, having designed another house in the same street. We understood the engineering and design complexities of the environment. Surrounded by neighbouring houses built in the 80s and 90s, we needed to ensure privacy for our clients which also formed an integral part of positioning the house on the block and its design.”
“The vertical grooves of Stria™ Cladding was an obvious choice for the tower in order to create verticality and the pre-textured sheets of Hardie™ Fine Texture Cladding allowed for that grounding on the back end." Josh Upston, S.Group
Cladding for the exterior was always going to be a critical feature in breaking down the form and scale to define the three distinct levels of the house. S. Group is very familiar with Hardie™ exterior cladding products, with the entire range having contributed to the practice’s design aesthetic over the years. In addition to creating a modern silhouette, the ease of installation and flexibility to incorporate colour are key factors why S. Group is drawn to Hardie™ exterior cladding products.
“We decided to use a mix of Hardie™ Fine Texture Cladding and Stria™ Cladding for the entire facade,” said Josh. “The vertical grooves of Stria™ Cladding was an obvious choice for the tower in order to create verticality and the pre-textured sheets of Hardie™ Fine Texture Cladding allowed for that grounding on the back end. The tower acts as a centre spine to connect the three floors, multiple levels in a home design are not common in Launceston and given the block constraints we wouldn’t have been able to achieve this result as efficiently without using exterior cladding.”
Construction materials such as Hardie™ Fine Texture Cladding and Stria™ Cladding are ideal for hillside builds due to easy installation, durability and minimal footprint on the block. S. Group were able to create a modern silhouette with a floating living room and deck, whilst minimising the environmental impact eliminating the need for heavy vehicles and various trades during construction.
The homeowners were particularly drawn to what they describe as a ‘ripple effect’ of the Hardie™ Fine Texture Cladding pre-textured surface. Hardie™ exterior cladding was also highly appealing to the homeowners as it offered them the option of being able to choose any paint colour for the façade. Important to them was ensuring a seamless connection between the house and the incredible mountain vista and the option of adding their own creative touch whilst ensuring the finish did not distract from the striking architectural design.
The introduction of colour through paint was key in creating this cohesion. The rich dark charcoal of Wattyl’s Colorbond® Monument® offset by the softer, warm neutral tones of Colorbond® Surfmist® paired well to create a sensorial effect where light and shadow was key in forming a relationship between the landscape and the building. The cladding acted as a canvas, its texture diffusing light giving the paint a matte finish and the vertical joint lines a subtlety that allowed bold forms and the large window frames to stand out.
“With such a large build and in using mixed materials throughout, attention to even the finest detail was crucial. We used Hardie™ Fine Texture Cladding on the larger sections of the exterior, and followed best practice panel layout, making sure the horizontal joint lines continued around the building from front to back in order to create a sense of symmetry. Colour played an important role in achieving this result and in creating the clean lines we expect to see in modern design,” said Josh.
Incorporating mixed materials in this build, S. Group were able to create a sense of interest and individuality. “Early in the mornings when there is a large amount of condensation in the air, the Stria™ Cladding almost takes on the appearance of charred timber and at other times during the day when the sun is out it’s evocative of a metal finish. As an architect it’s great to use a single product range that can provide such a varied look and feel, we can go from bold to pared back depending on the light or time of day,” commented Josh.
The homeowners recognised this build was going to throw a number of challenges right from the start, the steep block in particular, yet it was the mountain view that kept them motivated. “Working with S. Group and Josh in particular was easy, he listened and understood exactly what we were hoping to achieve,” said Greg. “We love everything about our new home and couldn’t be happier with the choices we made from design to even the simplest of fittings.
“The parameters of our block meant a modern design was really the best if not only option. Throughout the design process Josh was clear on the importance of choosing the right materials to support a modern build, how we might solve our access issues and how we’d create an open plan living space that was vertical. Our goal from the outset was to create a home that is interesting in form from the exterior and offered easy living on the inside. Hardie™ exterior cladding allowed us to achieve this in spades and the view isn’t bad either, it’s constantly changing and is a joy to wake each morning to see it through fresh eyes,” concluded Greg.
Architect: S. Group
Photographer: Ness Vanderburgh