Finalist of several architectural awards, the renovation of Kate’s House is impressive. But it’s the collaboration between architect and client that may have proved its greatest success.

We chat with architect Jade Vidal of Bower Architecture about the design intent for the home and the garden, as well as the experience of working with a client who has such a strong vision.

Kate appeared to have had a solid brief for her new home. What’s it like collaborating with a client who has such as strong vision?

It was very enjoyable and never a dull moment. The respect of both client and design team for the value of the design process was there from the start.

Kate’s brief was for a timeless family house for living in; a canvas which allowed for her imprint of artwork, sculpture and furnishings. Our collaboration continually pushed this brief and ambition through the design process and construction.

“Living here has brought sanity and serenity into our lives. It’s the combination of natural light and zones – shared spaces to converge and areas we can separately retreat to in a completely natural way.”  – Kate, owner

What was the brief for the outdoor space of Kate’s House?

The initial brief was for a low maintenance garden, with a character to complement her artwork and sculpture. As the design progressed we drew upon our experience of built gallery spaces, where garden connections and framed outdoor views are integrated into the movement through the spaces, to create moments of peace, visual relief and surprise.

Following the initial design concepts Bower Architecture worked closely with landscape designer Pascale Drever of Cielo Design and the owner to develop these concepts further.

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We’re thrilled to see our Endicott™ Crazy Paving and Lagano™ Project Stone featured in such a timeless and sophisticated project. The choice of materials outside is really restrained and sympathetic to the 1960’s era. Can you tell us a little more about your approach to the materials palette?

Given the abundance of artwork, sculpture and “stuff” of everyday family life on display in the house, the material palette is deliberately restrained, while being warm and textured to prevent a cold or minimal feel.

Natural raw materials such as blackbutt timber, bagged brickwork and granite combine with finer detailing in steel and brass. Bathrooms are treated as discovered and surprising gems of colour, balancing the neutral palette of living and bedroom spaces.

“It’s an organic flow between interior spaces and between interior and the garden. Seamless. I never feel the need to run away from home as I often did in my last house.” – Kate, owner

The landscape steps down from the dining platform.  Was that simply because of the nature site, or a deliberate design decision?

It was a deliberate design decision. The initial house was sited above the surrounding garden and landscape, with little connection between the two. Our strategy to connect house and landscape was to raise a small area of landscape up to match the level of the existing house at the entry courtyard and lower the new section of the house to match the existing landscape level.

This results in varied connections over the journey as the house gently terraces down the site.

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As architects, how important is integrating the landscape with the architecture?

Our practice aims to design spaces that appear revealed and meant to be, maximising opportunities presented by site and brief.

We believe good architecture will always integrate built form with landscape, and as such the design of both benefits when developed together.

Were there any particular challenges or successes that stood out during the design process?

Stitching together the new house to the retained section of the existing house without trying to replicate or compete with this original element was a challenge, requiring continual consideration and care.

The surprise and peace of the entry courtyard is a space we’re all proud of, including the owners. In the words of the owner “I still walk in everyday and smile. The house exudes calm and joy.”

The seamless integration of new and old, the natural materials and colour palette, and the intent of designing a home for living are just a few of the aspects that stand out in Kate’s House.  It’s also refreshing to see a home that has been designed to accommodate everyday living.

If you’re curious to see more of the home, inside and out, take a look at this video Bower Architecture created with Burning House to showcase Kate’s House.

“The house works. Aside from allowing us to live in a state of (mostly) peaceful co-existence, it has delivered all the elements I wanted. There are no stunts, nothing phony or contrived. The design and materials have their own integrity – but they’re not prescriptive.”- Kate, owner

Eco Products Featured: Endicott™ Crazy Paving and Lagano™ Project Stone

Architecture: Bower Architecture

Photography: Shannon McGrath