The success of Kate’s House appears to have come down to a combination of a strong brief, clever design decisions, and a collaborative relationship between client and architect.

Jade Vidal director of Bower Architecture chats with us about the experience of designing Kate’s House and what has made this home a finalist of many architectural awards.

As an architect, what’s it like to work with a client who has a strong brief and vision for their home?

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.

Bower Architecture was responsible for creating the design concept for the outdoor space.  What were the homeowners looking for in a garden?

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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Our Lagano Project Stone and Endicott™ Crazy Paving featured in this project among a restrained materials palette that works so well with the 1960’s era.  What influenced your choice of materials for Kate’s House?

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.

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.

“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

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What value do you as an architect place on integrating the architecture with the landscape?

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 challenges or successes you faced while designing Kate’s House?

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 transition between the old and new in this design is seamless.  The natural materials and restraint colour palette, together with the design of living spaces has resulted in a home catering for everyday life.

“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

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

Eco Outdoor Products: Endicott Crazy Paving and Lagano Project Stone

Architecture: Bower Architecture

Photography: Shannon McGrath