A Breathtaking Lake House In Northern New South Wales

Matthew Woodward (of Matthew Woodward Architecture) describes his use of materials in this awe-inspiring Lake Wallis residence as ‘experimental’.

‘It’s about accepting imperfections, as they tell a story of the construction process,’ he explains. ‘Accepting blemishes, tarnishing, oxidisation and general weathering allows materials to age in their natural state, and provides a level of richness and integrity that differs from other houses.’

Situated on a 25-acre property (of which 20 acres are covered in native bushland), the house is inspired by the raw and exposed landscape it sits upon. Previous owners had excavated a level pad on the sloping block, buttressed by a concrete wall. The southern end of the residence is raised on the natural incline of the block, while the main living quarters sit on the flattened slice of land at the fore. The previously cut level exposed a cross section of the cliff’s shale rock face, which served as the starting point for the simple material palette.

The residence comprises of two rectangular concrete prisms in equal proportion, connected by a timber gangplank. Rough-sawn recycled Australian blackbutt was selected for its longevity, and has been milled from old telegraph poles and bridge piers. This hardwood exterior cladding greys over time and blends with the off-form concrete edifices that wrap the structure inside and out. While raw, exposed materials signal an aesthetic appeal to the environment, they were also chosen for their sustainability credentials. Off-form concrete stores thermal energy and embodies heat retention when exposed to solar heating, and blackbutt timber is local and recycled.

The north-facing house opens itself to the elements, utilising sliding glass doors on the lower levels and hydraulic levered timber screens on the upper floor to unfold the residence out onto the property. With bushland at the rear of the property and rolling, unimpeded views down to Lake Wallis, maximum connectivity to the natural surrounds was a key design tenet.

The landscaping is subtle but essential to a house so invested in its ability to rest easily in its environment. A narrow, free standing lap pool is lined with drooping native grass, while the exposed green roof garden can only be viewed from the raised lawn at the back of the residence overlooking the lake.

But it’s the upper level master suite which is truly astounding. Operable timber screens control sun exposure to the master bedroom but also open the entire structure up to a panoramic vantage over Lake Wallis. We could get used to the views from that bath!

See more projects from Matthew Woodward Architecture here.


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