Born from a desire to explore two seemingly contrasting concepts, behind a veiled façade, Shutter House unfolds as a vibrant contemporary home that balances a sense of privacy and protection with a visual connection to the views of Lake Monger beyond.
The influence of Japanese architecture and the importance placed on craft and honesty of materials is evident from the outset, with the dark timber battens and stacked volumes that the house presents to the street creating a defined and singular impact. With the shutters raised, a sense of the adaptability of the spaces within and the emphasis on the home’s connection with the outdoors is also evident. When closed, however, the building presents a more opaque face to the street, prompting a sense of intrigue that carries throughout the project.
“The design at its core is meant to be expressive; it provokes you to look closer and longer,” explains Ara Salomone, co-founder of State of Kin. Stepping inside, this quality manifests with a concrete ceiling and hand-seeded terrazzo flooring that juxtaposes with the relative delicacy of the battens outside. Expressing the concrete block structure that is cut into the steeply sloping site, anchoring the house, these robust elements draw attention to the fact that there is more to the building than initially meets the eye. Within this arrival zone, an open stair draws one upwards through the building via a void that extends between all four levels of the home. This circulation space is also connected to the views, making the experience of movement throughout the home one that acts as a constant reminder of the presence of the adjacent lake.
In response to the slope of the site, the plan was deliberately inverted to maximise these views from the main living communal spaces situated on the top floor. Meanwhile, “private spaces were cut into the topography on the middle level, which, with the dispersion of courtyard spaces, allowed for numerous intimate courtyards that serve each room on the level,” says Ara. The operable shutters from which the home takes its name represent a “secondary skin” that establishes a dialogue with the surrounding landscape and grants the inhabitants control over the degree of privacy and the permeation of northern light throughout the seasons. Even when fully closed, she describes how “the façade still maintains a visual connection with the lake and surrounding parkland, whilst also affording a sense of enclosure and intimacy within.”
The project was one of the first for State of Kin. “It is a representation of our collective experience, announcing State of Kin’s establishment through the amalgamation of two-generational family businesses [design and construction],” says co-founder Alessandra French. As such, the house “served as an exciting opportunity to test design ideas and work cohesively with the construction team to ensure the best outcome.” With the house beginning as a collaboration within the family, it allowed the designers a greater level of freedom to experiment with both colour and materiality.
Having experienced hesitation on the part of clients of previous projects to commit to bolder colour choices, she recalls that “we wanted to demonstrate that colour could, in fact, be sophisticated and mature and that when juxtaposed against natural materials and a nuanced external palette could be highly successful.”
This approach saw State of Kin focus on showcasing local materials and suppliers. Endemic stringybark timber was used in the façade screens, and an emphasis on unique and handcrafted finishes is evident throughout, from the terrazzo at ground level and the oak parquetry on the upper floors to the Japanese Inax tiles and Agape bathware products sourced from Artedomus. “We love exploring materiality and experimenting with the possibilities and different applications,” says Alessandra. “We were fortunate to collaborate with Artedomus in creating a custom colour for one of the Sugie Series tiles used in various outdoor spaces. We were unable to find the shade of green we wanted to suit other materials, so we approached the team, and they were more than happy to work with us to achieve the perfect colour.”
In the wet areas, a cream Sugie Series tile was paired with terracotta grout and iridescent mirrors for an unexpected injection of colour. Balancing this bold and playful design move, the Agape Cheese Basin, Bjhon 2 Pedestal Basin, Cuna Bathtub and SEN tapware lend a soothing and sophisticated sensibility to the space. “We adore Agape’s products and jumped at the opportunity to specify them in the home. Their architecturally designed pieces are considered and timeless, perfectly suited to Shutter House,” explains Ara. “Artedomus allowed us to create a robust, design-focused material palette championing raw and expressive materials. They were a delight to work with and offer exceptional service and insight.”
A similarly curated selection of art and furnishings complements the interiors, with abstract art by local Perth artists and expressive, geometric furniture pieces enlivening the spaces with colour and texture. Against a backdrop that tends towards the natural and restrained, the tones of the furniture, paintings, lighting and sculpture at times contrast and at others harmonise to create a series of moments within the broader scheme of the home. As northern light fills the spaces when the shutters are open or casts a more dappled light when they are closed, architecture and interiors work as one.
Bringing together colour, form, texture and materiality with the essential qualities of light and space, Shutter House delivers on the sense of intrigue generated by its façade. The result is a home that achieves its goal of maximising the panoramic views over the lake whilst also establishing a tranquil and secluded sanctuary for family life within.