Connected Harmony – Totoro House by CplusC Architectural Workshop

Words by Bronwyn Marshall
Photography by Murray Fredericks & Ryan Ng
Styling by Jase Sullivan
Landscape Design Bell Landscapes

As a coming together of multiple personalities, Totoro is a celebration of family, expressed through geometric playfulness and a sense of adventure. CplusC Architectural Workshop reimagines the existing home to live in harmony with the landscape, reflecting its young family and how they want to live engaged with one another whilst allowing for privacy.

Located in inner west Sydney, Totoro House takes inspiration from the animated My Neighbour Totoro and the similar lessons on the interconnection life and its relationships have, namely friends, family and nature. The resulting home combines these principles together with references to the Japanese sensibility of shakkei, where landscapes can be both experienced and borrowed. Through an emphasis on connection between inside and out –and the visual cues between both – the built and the natural exist in harmony, balancing each other. CplusC Architectural Workshop creates a series of connected zones that reflect levels of activity and passivity within the home.

The original home is retained whilst the previous extension is replaced with one that allows for the family to come together.

Together with joinery by BWO Fitout & Interiors and landscape design by Bell Landscapes, Totoro House is realised across the entirety of its site. The landscape becomes its own destination as a key functional space for its owners. An interpretation of the family and its members of varying ages is then folded into the design through geometric expression, adding unexpected gestures in the process whilst also framing views out. The original home is retained whilst the previous extension is replaced with one that allows for the family to come together. In punctuating the exterior of the home with round windows, portals are created that allow the surrounding landscape to be experienced while inside and, conversely, for the happenings within to be experienced while in the landscape.

The celebration of the unique relationship between the build and the natural allows the home to breathe and feel anchored. Levels of transparency and privacy are grouped throughout, with more retreat spaces nestled within the original federation-era home and the more open and activated areas within the extension. As a flexible space, the new open volume adapts to socialising as required whilst also being able to modify itself to the needs of the owners as the brief develops for future years.

In punctuating the exterior of the home with round windows, portals are created that allow the surrounding landscape to be experienced while inside and, conversely, for the happenings within to be experienced while in the landscape.

Bringing together differing elements, eras and people, Totoro House heralds the idea of difference, seeing CplusC Architectural Workshop allow each to have their own space. Ultimately, the home is grounded, both in history and its renewed connection to the landscape.