Inspired by the curves of the Swan River below, the textural quality of the surrounding landscape, and with design cues derived from luxury yachts, this singular residence is etched into the cliff over Blackwall Reach, offering unparalleled experiences from every habitable room.
Located in Bicton, Western Australia -between Fremantle and Perth above Blackwall Reach, a locally famous geographical and cultural landmark in WA, the Infinity Views Residence is literally carved out of the limestone cliff in which is lays, with a relatively high, unobstructed vantage point west over the Swan River below to Fremantle and beyond.
The project, a development project for sale, had no end-user client. Instead, it was conceived as a mechanism to communicate the expertise of the builder, Capozzi Building, by creating a singular original design on an extremely logistically complex residential site, which would in-turn impress a future buyer. The site required non-standard and specific construction techniques and build methodology and the brief required architectural difference which would be interpreted into something that would be aspirational but tangible to a potential buyer. Armed simply with a loose spatial brief based on property expectations of the area and a budget, we were given free reign over the schematic design, with a focus on contextualism, materiality and experience.
Differentiating itself from traditional introverted mansion typologies, the residence follows a clear vision –let the occupants experience the landscape from the moment they stepfoot into the site. To create this experience, the form of the residence is separated into two clear volumes in plan, joined by transparent sun halls, providing a clear vision right through the residence. The form of the two volumes are composed with subtle curves and angles, with little perpendicular geometry, clad in a teak, to soften the forms landing into the cliffside. The attention is directed not to grand entranceways, stairs, porticos, but the architectural was intended to act as lens or blank canvas to the site experience.
Internally the benefit of two volumes is clear – logistical and acoustic separation to maximise the functionality of the spaces (i.e. sleeping from cooking), as well as energy efficiency (lessen the total volume of conditioned space). But whilst separation has its benefits, the ability to utilise the doubled sided balconies between the volumes, is where the beauty of this configuration lies. Opening up the massive sliding doors in the sun halls blurs the boundaries between driveway, entrance, sun hall and balcony, creating massive usable space where traditionally it would be permanently designated non-habitable or vehicular, and this follows a similar pattern on the floor beneath. What was once a balcony for 10 and a vehicular driveway, becomes an entertaining space for 100.
The topography of the site, a 13m difference from top to bottom, including a 7m sheer drop and extremely difficult soil conditions, drove the project and called for a complete reconsideration of traditional residential typologies. The site required parking on the highest of the three levels, to minimise the potential impact of vehicular space, which is further minimised with a double car stacker in the garage and internal lift. In section, the project shifts from dominant entertaining spaces up top, moving down to more private bedrooms spaces below, down again into guest suites and services areas. The plan differences between the levels of the project create a form that, when viewed from the West, are reminiscent of the geological layering of the limestone cliffs. Travelling downwards, utilising stairs, lift or external ramp, what is immediately apparent is how the residence is backed onto a sheer cut into the limestone cliff. Whilst this is spatially advantageous for certain rooms, as well as helping energy credentials by adding massive amounts of thermal mass, there was a consideration from the outset to ensure that the ground floor external spaces did not enclose by the mass of the building. The solution took inspiration from Le Corbusier’s Piloti – raise the building on columns, letting the form of the residence itself create massive amounts of covered space. To avoid not creating a cave like experience at the bottom rear, the house is partially offset from the line of the cliff retention, shaded by the concrete suspended driveway over, creating a light-filled and open space in defiance of expectations and allowing cross ventilation throughout the project. The driveway also acts as a necessary anchor, grounding the project into the cliff.
With the residence orientated west by necessity, the structure and composition of the residence is in turn extremely efficient by requirement. All materials work triple duty, they are aesthetic, they are structural, and they are energy efficient. Concrete is left raw, both of the floor and soffits (ceiling),grounding it aesthetically with the cliffs on which it rests. Walls throughout are oversized timber stud, allowing for extremely efficient composites, clad in sustainably sourced teak, orientated vertically to wrap corners where curves dictate. Balustrades around the driveway are exposed timber formed concrete, creating a tactile finish to compliment the timber, whilst also acting as upturned beams to support structural loads. Internal cornices, door frames, and skirting all flush with the wall surfaces throughout, so the lines of the walls are unfettered with ornament and the walls reads as singular planes. Stairs and key internal walls are clad in matching teak, adding warmth to the simple andconsistent materials palette. Cabinetwork is either finished in complimentary timber, or painted greys, the colour taken from a photo of a storm approaching that we photographed whilst on an initial site visit. The windows and doors, massive solid aluminium sunscreens and custom balcony roof, lighting, columns and pool are all white – offsetting the timber surrounds, taking design cues from naval architecture. In this vein, the stair balustrades, a series of custom white steel rods, all individual sized, read as ships rigging.
The palette is purposely restrained, warm and timeless, to ground the project and minimise the effect of its mass, with colour and vibrancy being added by the furniture, artwork and life within. The project is used as a stage for international furniture brands and local artists who have used the project for exhibition and photography whilst the project is on the market.
Bicton, Western Australia
560m2 inc. Garage
Mobilia ft. Kettle
Jack Lovell and Dion Robeson
WINNER – BUILDING DESIGN OF THE YEAR
WINNER – BEST RESIDENCE OVER $3 MILLION
WINNER – SPEC HOME OF THE YEAR
WINNER – SPEC HOME OVER $500k
WINNER – SPEC HOME OF THE YEAR
WINNER – INNOVATION IN LIGHTWEIGHT HOUSING OVER $800K
INNOVATION IN LIGHTWEIGHT HOUSING PROJECT OF THE YEAR
FINALIST – PERTH HOME OF THE YEAR
WINNER – NEW BATHROOM $35k – $60k
SHORTLISTED – HOUSES (NEW)
WINNER – WA BATHROOM OF THE YEAR
The Local Project – Australia
Home Journal – Hong Kong
Class and Villas – Spain
IFDM – Italy
Otthom – Hungary
Peru – D+
Elle – Indonesia
China – Gooood.cn
Brazil – Decor
Elle Decoration – Spain
H+R – Asia
Interjeras – Lithuania
Caras Decoracao – Portugal
Interior + Design – Russia
Deco Actuelle – Morocco
Glocal – Mexico
Design Verse – China
Intersect – Australia
DM Awards – Cover – Australia
The West Australian – Australia
Amazing Architecture – Online
The Living Habitat – Online
Perth is OK – Online
Selected Magazine – Czechia