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Hilltop House

Dusk over Pittwater Dusk over Pittwater Simon Wood Photographer

Richard Cole Architecture

NSW & ACT Entries 2010

Winner of The Residential Class 1 – New Buildings Award, 2010

This house is a small, carefully crafted dwelling on the steep eastern slopes of Pittwater. It is surrounded by remnant Spotted Gum Forest and features a huge tree adjacent to the entrance of the battle-axe block. The compact steel framed house featuring Blackbutt timber framing and Jarrah floors and joinery responds to the slope by terracing down the hillside.

Low pitched roofs, wide eaves and large window seats create a horizontality that echoes the western foreshore and screens sun from the western orientation. The owners wanted a contemporary dwelling in the tradition of the crafted cottages of the Pittwater area. With its precisely detailed and constructed structure and joinery, modest size and vernacular materials, this house is an embodiment of that idea.

The high strength to weight characteristics of engineered timber was utilised for the concealed structure. Posistrut floor joists were man handled down the steep access handle to quickly erect the building platform, while ripped down laminated studs permitted the thin wall structure to be contained within the expressed steel portal frame.

Tapered Blackbutt rafters are simply cleated to the steel structure, the strength of the hardwood permitting the wide eaves and the oiled finish running from inside to outside. The spacing of the rafters with the joints of the plywood ceiling aligns through the building with the vertical Western Red Cedar battens on the external fibre cement cladding, creating a consistent rhythm and texture. Glass infills between the rafters express the extension of these elements beyond the wall envelope.

Detailing is simple and clean, with a restricted palette of materials allowing the surrounding landscape and filtered water views to be revealed. Feature grade 130mm wide secret nailed Jarrah flooring with matt Synteko natural finish provides a rich, warm platform that turns up into the joinery elements.
Entered into:
  • Best Use Of Wood Veneers, 2010
  • Best Use Of Timber Panels, 2010
  • Best Use Of Timber as a Structural Element, 2010
  • Best Use Of Engineered Timber Products, 2010
  • Best Use Of Timber Flooring, 2010
  • Residential Class 1, New Buildings (Single family dwellings/townhouses), 2010
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