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Northern Beaches Modern

Architect David Boyle adopted an artistic approach for this home, inspired by mid-century modernist design.


May 12th, 2016


Simon Whitbread

The residents of the Noble Hughes House in Sydney’s Northern Beaches have a passion for mid century modernist design, and an enviable collection of artwork, furniture, lighting and memorabilia to match. Designed by architect David Boyle, the brief called for a family home that reflected the best of the 50’s and 60’s, channelling optimism, innovation, a mind for community, and generosity.

David Boyle has imagined the house much like a three dimensional, immersive artwork – the design unites a series of planar colours, patterns and natural materials applied to surfaces to explode the rigid geometric spatial planes. Just one of the enlightening, fun features of this project are its graphic coloured awning fins, which run along the eastern and western facade of the building. Colours are subtle, interesting and inviting, without being too bold or overbearing. A soft fire red is contrasted with a duck egg blue, pastel pink and pistachio green.

“The colours reference the mid century modernist palette in a combination of softer muted tones and some more saturated brighter tones,” says Boyle. “These are used on wall and ceiling planes to break down the cubic geometrical form. The colours are also used as counterpoints to the natural materials throughout the house including the timber, stone, polished concrete and patterned vinyl flooring. Some colours specifically reference our clients memories of their family homes and some fabric for cushions are vintage family pieces, which inject a strong personal connection to ‘home’ for our clients.”

A set of linked internal and external spaces are sequentially arranged along the length of the site, creating a seamless flow between outdoors and in. There is an 18m deep front entry garden connecting the entry to parking; a covered terrace flows smoothly into the living room; a courtyard garden is adjoined to the kitchen and dining room; and a swimming pool terrace connects to the family room and backyard.

On the ground level, the building form is pushed to the side boundary to create privacy, reducing visibility from the home’s northern neighbour. The upper floor partly overhangs the garden, and includes bedrooms, bathrooms, and a generous covered balcony carved out of the building form. This floor is skilfully hoisted up along the southern edge by a paperclip supporting post.

A pinwheel circulation system connects the two storeys – internally via a stair marking the point of entry to the house, and externally by a spiral staircase connect the living room terrace and top floor balcony. Individual spaces and the circulation system are subtly defined by freestanding joinery unites. The stair and adjacent external void incorporates a high pitched eastern skylight drawing light and air through the centre of the house and the garden.

“Apart from the mid century design references, the house incorporates our ongoing practice to include innovative sustainable design strategies,” adds Boyle. “The insulated ground floor concrete slab includes a hydronic heating system that radiates heat to the upper level, and in combination with the wood burning fireplace, minimises the need for more traditional air conditioning. Stormwater is fully contained and controlled on the site with a series of 20,000L detention and rainwater tanks located under the concrete slab. The upper floor bedroom and hallway are finished with a recycled vinyl flooring which is also low allergenic and easy to maintain.”


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