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A swimming pool slices through the middle of this home, dividing it into living zones

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At first glance, a house built with sculptural, contemporary lines may not seem an obvious fit for a family with young children.

The home featured here reinforces the idea that the prerequisite for a functional, flexible home needn't compromise strong design intent, says designer David Ponting.

"The owners wanted a simple, modern home that would convey a strong sense of permanence without being brash or overt," he says.

Their criteria also included privacy and water, a swimming pool bisects the middle of the home and plays a pivotal role in the overall design.

On a long, narrow site in a heritage listed zone, the two-story house has an exterior designed to tie in with the neighborhood vernacular. The structure's masonry form, emphasized by a march of tall, chunky columns and double-height glazing, is essentially a simple box with a floating lid, says Ponting. Much of the house is concealed from public view by boundary walls so all that can be seen from the road is the pitched roof. This sits comfortably alongside the surrounding villas and cottages. To create the private outdoor courtyards that verge on either side of the swimming pool, the site was excavated 5.2ft and fencing placed right up to the boundary lines. Plantings, such as palms and yukkas, boxed in with low, retaining walls, help to accentuate the home's formal lines. To suit the specific requirements of the family, the house is divided into zones, each one set on an axis parallel to the pool. Stretching the length of the house, the pool culminates into a small waterfall.

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"The pool is very much the central focus of the home, its interior lined with glass black mosaic tiles to create a deep, tropical colored water as opposed to a lively blue," says Ponting.

Located on the ground floor of the house is the family wing, which incorporates an open-plan living area comprising kitchen, dining room and living room. Here, large glass doors slide back into the cavities of the thick concrete pillars to reveal the still water of the pool.

Dark wood cabinetry, double bleached oak flooring and furniture upholstered in plush fabric provide warmth and texture in the space. To create a calm, clutter-free atmosphere, cabinetry has been used to conceal functional items throughout the space, from entertainment equipment and books to kitchen crockery and appliances. At night, negative detailing, such as strip lighting, creates interesting shadows on the white walls and ceilings. The play of light is also visible during the day, thanks to the different ways natural light falls between the structure's carefully considered architecture.

From the kitchen island, the owners can look across the pool and into what Ponting describes as the parents' time-out zone. This pavilion is accessed via a frosted, opalescent bridge enclosed by floor-to-ceiling glass on both sides.

"The crossover into this private retreat maintains an involvement with the water. As with the main entrance, external walls have been extended inside to maintain an integral connection with the outdoors," says Ponting.

Providing a focal point in this predominantly glazed, box-like structure is a strategically positioned fireplace. Set directly opposite the kitchen, the fireplace's ambient glow provides a strong visual link between the two spaces at night.

While the children's bedrooms and a study are located on the mezzanine floor, the master suite is an almost detached pavilion, says Ponting. The bedroom opens out, via glass sliding doors, directly onto the pool and a courtyard strewn with river pebbles and studded with Scleranthus uniflores.

First published date: 08 May 2003

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Credit List

Designer David Ponting, David Ponting Architectural
Interior designer Tricia Dunlop, Spatial Integrity
Builder Eaglen Homes Construction
Kitchen designer Lance Dixon Kitchens
Kitchen manufacturer Laustsen Cabinetmakers
Window/door hardware Aluminum
Siding Firth Masonry Hotbloc
Roof Zincalume
Flooring Stained oak
Paints Dulux
Lighting Modus Lighting, Aesthetics Lighting
Furniture Designers Collection, Bromhead Design, Matisse
Kitchen countertops Granite, stainless steel
Backsplash Colored glass
Faucets Vola
Range Ilve
Microwave LG
Refrigerator, dishwasher and waste unit Bosch
Flowers Vida Flores
Sculpture Courtesy of Michael Lett Gallery
Exterior chairs Matisse