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    Hall& Hart: A Creative Journey Behind the Design of Avenue House

     
     
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    Nick Rawson, a founding partner of Hall & Hart, recounts his journey of designing Avenue House.

    My Journey from Aspiring Artist to Urban Planner

    I’ve always seen creativity as more than just entertainment, for me, it’s the ability to tell a story, give emotion, and also to solve problems. Growing up I was fixated on art; and not just the ability to paint and draw for artistic sake, but also what art styles represented culturally. From street art to renaissance, and all the modernism in-between, I was fascinated by what each style represented. Having been very close to pursuing a career in art after high school, where my peers recognised me for my artwork and approach, I opted to undertake a career almost at polar opposite ends; firstly studying Urban and Regional Planning, which then led me to undertake secondary studies to obtain a Masters of Property Development, which further developed my understanding of Sydney’s complex planning and development landscape. Having undergone a career path very different to being an artist, I still find that the creative in me has found another use – creatively problem-solving through house design.

    Designing Within Boundaries

    I believe that designing a home from scratch is not starting with a blank canvas; the town planner in me knows it’s a canvas that is restricted with gross floor area, setbacks, height restrictions, and on-site constraints such as rock, trees, and slope. But the creative in me sees these challenges as a silver lining; these limitations promote the challenge of creating something different. To me, designing Avenue Home presented many of these challenges; I wanted to create a home that told a story, supported growing and evolving families, as well as give energy, joy and nostalgia, but not at the neglect of practicality.

    Navigating Constraints with Creative Solutions

    The block that influenced the design of Avenue House was 12m wide by 45m deep, with compass East to the rear of the property. This somewhat long and narrow block presented an opportunity for Marko Jovasevic, one of our senior designers, and myself to create a design that aspired to give volume and openness within the constraints of the block dimensions.

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    With the block's orientation, we could divide the block into 2 halves; the northern side and the southern side. The goal from the onset was to have all services, amenities, storage, and utilities on the southern side, acting as a visual shield from the southern neighbour and harsh southern weather. And on the northern side, openness, congregation areas, areas for reflection, and arterial passages flooded in natural light that made it enjoyable to connect from east to west within the home.

    Designing a Home for Entertainment, Work and Family Life

    Once we became clear of the opportunities on the site, a thorough examination of the brief made it clear that the design needed to maximise the adaptation of multi-functional rooms. The house needed to entertain, act as a dim-lit restaurant, a late-night jazz haunt, but also a professional workspace, and a communal school home-workspace. It needed a sun-drenched floor near the kitchen for kids to crawl during dinner prep, and a functional kitchen space that oversaw the surroundings. It needed a closed of lounge room for older kids to play away from parents, and an open living room and bar, for the parents to play away from kids. It needed a main bedroom that felt like a luxury hotel, and an ensuite off it that provided elegance to match the hotel, but also practical to allow for high-morning traffic. It needed space for the occasional guest, and a bedroom to board any nest returners. It needed a pool that was always bathed in sun, and always visible from the kitchen. And lastly, the house needed to invite you outdoors during summer, but also give you comfort and warmth during winter.

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    Lastly, the brief provided very simple yet direct instructions for the feeling of the home; it had to be warm, it had to have a feeling of shelter and comfort, it also needed to feel natural and nostalgic.

    Drawing Inspiration from Australia’s Architectural Heritage

    Much like art periods in history have it’s styles, characters, and stories, Australia has its rich history of modern architecture. Living close to the Castlecrag, I would routinely walk the Castlecrag Architecture Walk, which is a looping trail along Edinburgh Road. The walk showcases residential designs from prominent architects such as Walter Burley Griffin, Harry Seidler, and Peter Mueller, with the latter being a prominent mid-century modernist architect, drawing heavy influence from Frank Lloyd-Wright. Adhering to the key principles of mid-century modern architecture, we sought to include clean lines, large windows, open floor plans, extensive use of natural materials such as brick, timber and stone, a strong connection between indoor-outdoor living, and emphasis on joinery to enhance functionality and character.

    Crafting Purposeful Interiors

    Working with Jessica Joseph, the lead interior designer on the project, we sought to give a sense of space by stripping away the unnecessary with every room having defined purposes. We achieved this, including joinery with high functionality, and whilst doing so, we remained consistent with warm and nostalgic materials. This was ensured with the use of timber flooring throughout the house, transitioning from the ground floor to the first floor, allowing for the same texture and warmth to be experienced anywhere in the house.

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    Avenue House is the latest of our concept designs, which is due to start construction in the 2nd half of 2024, and we look forward to sharing its progress.

    Download a PDF brochure with floor plan here

    To understand how this design can be recreated or adapted for you, request for a discovery session with one of our new home consultants.

    BOOK A 15-MIN PHONE CONSULT

     

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