Material and metaphor line the landscape
A couple required an artist’s studio and personal library (consisting of some 17,000 volumes) on their rural site, located approximately 20km north-east of Canberra. The sloping site sits within a small valley, with its northernmost boundary defined by the Molonglo River which flows from a flood plain to the east, widening into a pool at the north-west corner of the site.
The client’s interest in Greek and Mesapotamian art and mythology informed the design at many levels. Firstly, Greek planning principles can be found in the overall arrangement of the site, with Doxiadis’ description of the methodology and geometry utilised for the layout of the major sanctuaries. The centrally organised composition – based around a “propylaea” in the original house – is embraced by two varying end conditions. An excavation down into the site to the east, gesturing toward the valley below and beyond, and to the west a ribbon that increases in height and terminates in a verandah facing the natural pool.
The studio takes the form of a Greek ‘treasury’ but wrapped copper sheet. This ‘wrapping’ contrasts with the action of ‘lining’ used in the library – a labyrinthine arrangement that protects and organises the book collection of over 17,000 volumes. The layering also serves to further insulate the landscape walls from problems of water and moisture penetration, enhancing the climatic stability of this partly submerged building. In addition to the provision of an archive, a space is provided where the client can work in ideal conditions for reading and writing, accessed via a secret door in the continuous bookcase.
Doxiadis' analysis of the Acropolis promised the arrangement of the buildings in respect to the existing house ("propylaea")
Building as line, not as object