A Mid-Century ModernArtist’s Residence – Gascoigne House by Theo Bischoff
Woden, ACT, Australia
Affectionately named after its previous owners, Australian contemporary artist Rosalie Gascoigne and her astronomer husband Charles, Gascoigne House is an important example of the many mid-century modern homes residing within Australia’s capital. Originally designed by Theo Bischoff in the late 1960s, the home combines the familiar openness and long spans the period is known known for with a strong connection to the outdoors.
Nestled into the suburban fabric of Canberra’s Woden, Gascoigne House is one of many homes of a similar era and architecture that dot the inner and outer residential areas of Australia’s capital city. As a city purpose built, the time of its growth and expansion is never more evidenced than in the resulting architectural fabric that comprises its many parts. Originally designed by Theo Bischoff and completed in 1969, the home is centred around the core principles of its time and the modernist movement, where long spans and advancements in technology and engineering endowed architects of the period a newfound tool kit to play with. Located atop its sloping site, the resulting home is imagined around a central courtyard and a vested engagement with natural light, maximising views in all directions. After previous home building attempts, Rosalie and Charles wanted to learn from these experiences and ensure this space encapsulated not only how they lived in their home but also an understanding of their priorities of engaging with the site and the surrounds.
After previous home building attempts, Rosalie and Charles wanted to learn from these experiences and ensure this space encapsulated not only how they lived in their home but also an understanding of their priorities of engaging with the site and the surrounds.
Integral to the brief was Rosalie’s want to be able to hang artwork in naturally lit areas, while also ensuring adequate bench space for working, constructing and displaying ikebana arrangements as needed. The home was in this way more than just a place to reside but a series of spaces where working from home could occur and where creative exploration could unfold. The home also became a space to invite other artists, gallery owners and curators into, as a way of sharing her work with the community. The home became a place of conversation and a community gathering space.
Sitting on a concrete slab, open face brickwork is used throughout, creating a textured and varied approach to materiality. The interplay with natural light over the day and its engagement with the building was an important consideration. Popular at the time, the low-pitched roof reflects the mid-century modern style, as do the exposed rafters, timber doors and window and vertical board detailing. The integrated joinery is also reminiscent of the era, where furniture was explored as part of the building fabric, not a separate entity entirely. With its back to the street, at the core of the principles underpinning this home is a dedication to understanding its site over a standardised street address, optimising its northern aspect and the views toward Black Mountain.
Integral to the brief was driven by Rosalie’s want to be able to hang artwork in naturally lit areas, while also ensuring adequate bench space for working, constructing and displaying Ikebeana arrangements as needed.
Gascoigne House utilises natural and honest materiality as it sits thinly across its site. As a place to live, create and entertain, Theo Bischoff created an enduring home which resonates today as much as it did at the time of its inception, challenging the typical and proposing architecture that responds to the natural and to its owners at the core of everything.