Bigger Isn’t Better In This Newcastle Home

The clients of this Lambton, Newcastle, project originally engaged Curious Practice to design a small renovation only. However, upon discovering extensive unmapped mine workings and land subsidence beneath the site, a complete rebuild was required. 

Given a new house was not initially on the cards, the client’s budget was modest, calling for a particularly inventive response from Curious Practice. While the previous house consumed the majority of the site, the practice took the opportunity to design something smaller, and more contextual.

‘The discovery of subsidence and subsequent opportunity for a new house allowed us to develop this scheme and maximise garden areas with much more rigour,’ says project architect Greg Lee. ‘With a modest budget, expanding the living areas through large openings onto landscape and outdoor “rooms” was prioritised, and areas such as garages were seen as superfluous.’ 

The architect intends for these outdoor areas designs by Tallowood Landscapes to eventually become the focal point of the home, supporting the project’s objective of maintaining the green leafy suburb. ‘As they establish over time, the gardens will reveal hidden paths, and are designed for verdant consumption of the building, reducing its presence in the green suburb,’ says Greg.

The home’s relatively humble material palette includes unpainted fibre-cement sheets, galvanised steel sheets, chain link fencing, concrete, unpainted laminated veneer lumber, and timber battens. ‘Our approach to materiality was to be robust, honest and modest, but to create a visual whole and subdue the architecture against the vibrancy of the growing landscape,’ explains Greg.  

These varying textures enhance the way sunlight hits each surface, particularly the dappled light that streams in through tall trees above. Birch ply joinery and wall lining extend this same approach internally. ‘The birch ply surfaces were developed to further blur the distinction between wall and joinery, abstracting the spaces’ volumes,’ says Greg.

Covering just a 55 square metre footprint, this project proves less is truly more! 


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