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This pavilion-style home takes full advantage of its steep site, creating a variety of outdoor living spaces to suit different weather conditions

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Many people thinking of building on a sloping site see only the potential disadvantages. But while a steep site may present difficulties, finding solutions to design challenges can provide distinct advantages.

This positive approach was taken by the owners of the house shown here and resulted in dramatic and often-used outdoor living spaces.

The site consists of a flat area on the roadside, then drops sharply 22m down to a riverbank. This means the spectacular river views are seen from the cooler south side, which experiences strong afternoon breezes in summer.

The site's previous house ignored the slope and sat on the flat portion of land. But the new owners wanted a house that used the full extent of the site and was oriented to the view. For the design, they called on Martin Grounds of Grounds Kent Architects, a firm whose past work includes Asian resorts, often with similar design challenges to overcome.

"We placed a series of pavilions down the slope, and integrated courtyards into the outdoor spaces that were formed between them," says Grounds. "Terracing the slope helped create these courtyards, but also allowed nearly every room to have a river view."

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The result is a variety of outdoor living spaces throughout the home. These include a courtyard alongside the covered walkway leading to the main entrance. Because this courtyard is on the north side of the house, it's sunny in winter and protected from the breezes in summer. Expanses of glazing in the adjacent living room mean it's still possible to experience the view from this aspect.

When conditions are calmer, courtyards on each level on the home's southern side give a choice of outdoor spaces with direct views, including an outdoor kitchen.

The slope also provided advantages in designing the pool on the lower level. It meant it was not necessary to excavate into the rocky terrain to create the depth required, and the plant room could easily be installed beneath.

First published date: 19 April 2005

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Credit List

Architect Grounds Kent Architects (Perth)
Main contractor Patton Building
House cladding Hand-faced limestone from Limestone Resources
Pool and spa pool Neptune Pools
Courtyard and pool surround paving Palimanan stone sourced in Bali
Tiles Batu Hijau stone tiles
Decking Jarrah pool decking from Bunnings
Fencing Glass pool fencing from Cooling Brothers
Lighting External pendants sourced in Bali; light fixtures from Illuminations