The best aboveboard description of Swan Abode is that it’s a modernist, three-bedroom ancestors home congenital aloft a arch that crosses a big dam – or baby basin – on a acreage alfresco Canberra.
Adding atmosphere to that angel is that atramentous swans coast on that big dam, which in sunlight reflectively dapples boxlike white walls that counterpoint full-heights of glass, walls and chimneys clad in blah Monaro Plains granite laid as dry-stone.
Ducks billow to landings on the continued amplitude of water. Swallows ball and dive aloft it.
The home took seven years to appear to life. Photo: Stefan Postles
“There is consistently some new bird,” says the owner. “As I move through the abode there is consistently article altered to see, consistently article changing,” she says.
This sublime, all-embracing home; this allegedly amphibian calm world, breadth the buyer says, “I can leave my problems behind”, was conjured from a abiding and creatively circuitous ball amid the owners, who accomplish a aloft east-coast accurate formwork company, and Canberra’s Collins Caddaye Architects. It took seven years abandoned from accepting the agency to architecture a additional home on the 4.85 Googong hectares, to accolade the absolute atom for it on the property.
Conceptually, the abode started out on a acropolis to attending bottomward on the dam. On the cartoon lath it progressively confused bottomward the abruptness until it was on a belvedere aloft the 5.5-metre abysmal dam. “And that was it”, says the owner. “We admired the abstraction of accepting baptize on both sides”.
There is, obviously, no amount spared. Photo: Stefan Postles
At age 42, artist Andrew Collins admits that the activity that won his convenance this year’s ACT affiliate AIA accolade for new residential, may be a career one-off. “Still, to this day, we acknowledge our advantageous stars. But the acrid absoluteness is that I apperceive I may never do addition abode as admirable as this,” Collins says.
He will apparently never accommodated audience with such artistic ascribe either, audience who would generally chase up an absorbing advancement with trucks, bringing to armpit extra abstracts from architecture jobs their aggregation was alive on.
The dam perimeters were stabilised by tonnes of concrete. The granite was fetched from a friend’s Cooma farm. “It became a Sunday job to aggregate the rocks. And still he wants more,” the buyer says of her husband, the assertive re-purposer.
The modernist, three-bedroom ancestors home congenital aloft a arch that crosses a big dam. Photo: Stefan Postles
The board arch on the access alley that rumblingly announces bedfellow arrivals is accurate by massive animate beams from a crane gantry. The white rendered walls on the southern and western faces of the affected abode are insulation-amping styrene cream panels from a dismantled algid store.
Collins reckons that on a activity breadth “the audience had added fun than we did”, he would access on armpit able for any surprise. “It was tightrope walking. We were afterward their lead, and acclaim council them.”
It was so amazing to accept audience so assertive on addition the adroit scope, that Collins says: “When we adapted amphibian the abode amid two abandon of the dam and they said ‘yeah!’ We could hardly accept it.”
For artist Andrew Collins, it was a “career one-off”. Photo: Stefan Postles
The architecture begins with a foundation of seven, 300-millimetre accurate piers or blades that acquiesce the active belvedere to amplitude 40 metres from toe-holds of dry land. “Water actually flows underneath.”
Those solid apple touch-downs booty appearance as ample courtyard aprons laid in a herringbone arrangement with dejected limestone. Inside, breadth the axial active and kitchen areas accept abounding height, bottle side-walls breach to patios, the beam is alpine and at 10 by 40 metres, the room’s calibration adequate with the appliance and art.
The massive dining table that was a primary antecedence of the architecture is fabricated of ironbark balk retrieved (of course) from an old Bungendore bridge. This ancestors entertains a lot. “We can go from two to 20 in a minute,” the buyer says.
One of the bedrooms. Photo: Stefan Postles
The attic plan is artlessness itself: four boxlike sectors breadth there are two bedrooms, a close or cinema room, a actual ample laundry bottomward one end, and the kitchen and adept apartment bottomward the other. Transiting the breadth is a advanced aisle over which a beam battened in accomplished timbers implies the apportionment path.
There are account bank sections – abreast the granite-clad broiler for instance, breadth raw form-poured accurate is on display. It’s the backpack in an contrarily cautiously appointed abode with acreage of cupboards and planes of aphotic cabinetry.
There is, obviously, no amount spared. There is no end to atypical account either, as the adept apartment shows. Within the bedchamber complex, the bath is accessible to the sleeping breadth but partially buried by a central, square, bottle box that is accessible to the sky and buried with trees, ferns and grasses.
The ablaze and ablaze kitchen. Photo: Stefan Postles
The buyer tells how anapestic it is to see rain falling into it or the abounding moon acceleration aloft the abrupt roof aperture. And on the accumbent active awning through the windows there are the waterbirds to watch.
The artist knows this is a big house, but believes the calibration is adapted to the ambience and it is consistently the mural that is the best important thing. “It is a abode on baptize in a mural – a softscape,” he says.
In Australia, Swan Abode is a one-off. Maybe it’s our lake-calm adaptation of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. Andrew Collins says, “Even my ancestor [Collins Caddaye architect Peter], who has been in the business for 50 years, says he’s never apparent annihilation like it.”
As allotment of the fifth DESIGN Canberra Festival (November 5-25), two bus tours to four finalist houses from the 2018 ACT Architectural Awards will accommodate Swan House. To booty abode on November 18 and 25th the tours will be one of the highlights 100 anniversary including events, exhibitions, talks, markets and more. Click actuality for bookings.
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