New normal for responsive design

22 Jun 2021

Humphrey Homes Cottesloe architect residence

Sprawling across two levels and consisting of five bedrooms and four bathrooms, this custom build by Humphrey Homes enjoys an enviable location, only a few streets back from the beach in charming Cottesloe.

With soaring ceilings stretching to 3.5m, which extend out to the garden and pool, the home is bathed in natural lighting, complementing the well-established beachside style.

Humphrey Homes Owner and Director Dean Humphrey said it was a coastal home with a twist – the inspiration being relaxed sophistication, befitting of its location and how the owners liked to live.

“The home works in Cottesloe because of its beachside location, and this was a consideration but not the main one when conceiving the overall design,” he said.

“The key drivers were orientation, liveability, connectivity and permeability.”

Looking at specifics, Mr Humphrey said the client wanted the home to breathe, which was achieved from the front to the back through the implementation of ventilation pathways and visual connectivity spanning the length of the property.

He said with the difference being a modern, contemporary edge, the home was reminiscent of a classic Queenslander.

“They were also very happy for it to be timber-framed,” he said. “Other than a central section built from brickwork, the whole house, including the suspended floor and staircase, is completely timber-framed.”

Advanced timber-framing was the main technique used, and Mr Humphrey said this type of construction had been developed by the company over many years, ensuring the home was as airtight as possible.

“As a result, the home is more comfortable to live in and enjoys significantly lower heating and cooling costs,” he said. “The airtightness also assists with ambient noise, making it quieter than most homes. There is a cavity behind the weatherboards allowing them to breathe and move freely in different weather conditions.

“Aesthetically the extensive use of feature external timber, including weatherboards, posts and beams that have been painted white, adds to the coastal theme and pavilion lifestyle, with spotted gum hardwood being used for the pool decking.”

Through the use of a neutral colour palette, the home offers a relaxed and elegant expression, evident through elements such as oak floors and powdery walls.

“Because the high ceilings create voluminous spaces, the warmth of the floors are paramount, as are natural elements of rumbled stone and linen, coupled with matte finishes and natural fibres throughout,” Mr Humphrey said.

“Walking from the timber open-plan area to the beautiful stone alfresco is enhanced with the burnished white micro-cement pool finish and lush green gardens.”

Mr Humphrey said the design was adaptive and could be segregated in three ways – the front, the top and the rear were all essentially separate homes and the resultant design could be best described as a ‘house within a house’.

“The client wanted a separate wing for privacy and access, which we achieved with the entire upper floor – all 123sqm – acting as an independent wing.

“The upper floor has three bedrooms, open living, one bathroom and powder room, a kitchen and a private balcony. Entrance to the upper floor is private, making it the perfect teenager’s retreat or a holiday home away from home when guests come to stay.”

In addition, Mr Humphrey said the home boasted a socially and environmentally friendly design – responsible in its planning and not a drain on energy or resources.

“The standouts through its design and build are centred around life-cycling, sustainability and a responsive design that is forward thinking,” he said.

“We talk about the ‘new normal’ with COVID-19 – this could be the ‘new normal’ in responsive design.

“It can be opened up when needed and closed off when needed, essentially becoming an adaptive apartment on the ground.”

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This story first appeared in The West Australian's New Homes liftout on 14 June 2021.