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Speaking volumes

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Living on a small site doesn't have to mean living in a small space

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Open-plan living makes entertaining easy, and lets us spend increased quality time with our loved ones. It is also an ideal way to increase the sense of space in a small home.

This two-story townhouse is one of 18 waterfront homes designed by Mirvac Projects' design arm, HPA.

Despite the cramped site – a mere 3000sq ft – each four-bedroom residence has over 3300sq ft of floor space, including a double garage.

Design director Malcolm Sholl says strong spatial geometry can be achieved through open-plan living within the discipline of planes and blades.

"The exterior may be small in size, but it is big in its architectural statement," says Sholl. "Its cubist forms and strong lines are dramatic by day and night."

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The upper balconies feature slots in the side and top, which let in light as well as contributing to the aesthetic.

"It's as though we've taken a cube and sliced bits out of it," says Sholl.

This concept is evident throughout. The layout allows for dramatic river views from several vantage points, both inside and out. As guests walk in the front door, they are able to see straight through the living area to the water beyond. Glazed walls encourage glimpses of the view, increasing the sense of space.

Balconies and terraces offer sweeping water vistas, but remain private and enclosed thanks to the use of steps and changes of levels. An internal courtyard, with a pebbled water feature, provides another private outdoor space with natural light and shelter from the wind.

All of the main living spaces are arranged around this courtyard, which is highly visible and conveniently accessed.

For example, the courtyard can be accessed from the dining area, which, in turn, steps down into the formal living room. A built-in fireplace and shelving unit separates the two spaces.

"We haven't closed off one space from the other, but there is a subtle division between the two," says Sholl.

The kitchen and a casual living/dining area are also located around the internal courtyard. In keeping with the overall design, the kitchen features strong lines and high-quality surfaces.

High ceilings, white planes and simple, yet sophisticated detailing are found throughout the house.

"By having generous ceiling and space standards we have let the volumes speak for themselves," says Sholl.

Each of the four bedrooms features covered balconies and full height glazed window walls to maximize the view.

Sholl says the house is a good example of modern urban living that could be adapted to suit most tastes in interiors.

"I think it shows that we can build contemporary townhouses on the waterfront that blend tastefully with the natural environment."

First published date: 24 March 2006

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Credit List

Architect Kim Pappas, Will Duplessis, Sayed Hadisadegh, HPA in association with Bruce Eeles, Eeles Trelise Architects
Interior designer Nikki Rosen, Tina Maydwell, HPA
Builder Mirvac Constructions
Kitchen manufacturer IJF
Windows and doors Micos Windows
Window and door hardware Oliveri
Siding Concrete
Roofing Concrete
Flooring Ceramic/stone tiles
Paint Dulux
Lighting Euroluce and Cosmoluce
Heating Jetmaster
Kitchen and bathroom cabinets Wood veneer with 100% gloss polyurethane
Countertops Stone
Backsplash Glass
Sink Clarke
Kitchen faucets Caroma
Oven, hob, microwave and dishwasher Miele
Ventilation TempZone
Hot water systems Rheem instantaneous gas