A Neat Navigation – Bondi House by Fox Johnston
Sydney, NSW, Australia
Neatly navigating its narrow and steeply sloping site, Bondi House carves itself as a considered expression of compact living. Fox Johnston grounds the new insertion through a layering of warmth, while the interplay of weighted materiality and openness, embraces the home’s natural environment.
Teetering over its steep site, Bondi House presents as a thin sliver as it makes its way down its narrow site, abutted by a public pedestrian laneway. As an expressed tension between open and closed gestures, the warm and weighted form sits comfortably hugging its terrain. Its adjoining interwar semi-detached neighbour plays a guiding role in providing contextual cues and offering a sense of scale and proportion. In finding the right balance, the home addresses its closeness to the public access thoroughfare through a heavier and more shielded materiality, while also feeling open and embracing of its outward facing views from within. Fox Johnston creates a comfortable and protective home through formal elements, while also providing a place of respite and recharge in the process.
Similar warming elements and tones from the exterior are brought inward, with expressed red cedar timber beams within the living spaces and a similar-hued kitchen and custom joinery.
Built by Grid Projects, with engineering by SDA Structures, Bondi House is an experiment in the challenges of inner urban compact living. Both in maximising the liveable internal experience of the home and proposing an appropriate response to its context, the result sees a restrained approach emerge. Its offering as a contained extrusion on site is an address to its neighbours, allowing the home to sit comfortably in its place, while the issue of privacy and concealment from the activated laneway is dealt with in a more personalised manner. Sitting on a base of local sandstone, the levels ascend and become wrapped in a lighter material as an offering of its elevation. On the upper level, copper sheets clad the upper volumes, encouraging a patina and expression of time as it ages, while also acting as a shield of sorts to the gaze of passers-by.
Having lived in the previous home for a number of years prior, the owners were familiar with the area and site, and had a clear vision for how their next chapter would unfold. Flexibility and the ability for the building to be adapted as needed were key. Despite its constrained site, the emphasis was on creating a series of internal spaces that felt lofty, light-filled and connected to both views out and the abundance of greenery it is immersed within. Similar warming elements and tones from the exterior are brought inward, with expressed red cedar timber beams within the living spaces and a similar-hued kitchen and custom joinery. A polished concrete floor then connects effortlessly to the exterior terraces and encourages the diffusion of thresholds bounding the building.
On the upper level, copper sheets clad the upper volumes, encouraging a patina and expression of time as it ages, while also acting as a shield of sorts to the gaze of passers-by.
Bondi House beautifully traverses its site challenges, and through a series of considered manoeuvres, Fox Johnston has created a home that feels responsive, thoughtful and deliberate.