De­sign for this Syd­ney water­front prop­erty.

Belle - - Garden -

With about a third of Will Dan­gar’s work con­cen­trated on the edge of Syd­ney Har­bour, it’s nat­u­ral for him to think he’s seen ev­ery per­fect view. Oc­ca­sion­ally, though, he is taken by sur­prise, as in the case of a new house at Kir­ri­billi. “It’s fac­ing south, down a tight cul-de-sac, so noth­ing had quite pre­pared me for this un­real view out to Bradley’s Head, Taronga Zoo and the eastern sub­urbs be­yond.” But a view can be a dou­ble-edged sword, he says, with care­ful man­age­ment needed when it comes to the place­ment and main­te­nance of trees.

For this project, he worked with long­stand­ing col­lab­o­ra­tors Popovbass, an ar­chi­tec­tural prac­tice well known for its em­pha­sis on ma­te­ri­al­ity. “You use a sim­plic­ity of ma­te­ri­als, you are proud of the nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als, such as brick, con­crete and tim­ber, and then em­pha­sise the qual­ity of the ma­te­ri­als by the way light hits them,” says Alex Popov.

The steel-framed house, with its struc­tured Mon­drian-style fa­cade, has an ar­chi­tec­tural pre­ci­sion that is com­ple­mented by the land­scap­ing. Right from first view, there is a sense of how plant­ing and form in­ter­act, with the use of large-leafed ivy to soften a re­tain­ing wall and a crepe myr­tle tree in a struc­tural planter that forms part of the ar­chi­tec­ture of the en­trance.

This is the start of a planned jour­ney through the house in­ter­spersed with mo­ments of visual re­ward – a sculp­ture, an aerial view of the pool from a bridge walk­way, the canopy of a gled­it­sia – which all con­trib­ute to a se­quenced ex­pe­ri­ence that cul­mi­nates in the ex­pan­sive view.

At the pool, which lies on the en­try side of the house, strong visual con­trast is cre­ated be­tween the largely white man-made struc­ture and the dense, lush fo­liage of rhapis and large-leafed ivy. “It cre­ates some drama in a sim­ple space and I like the place­ment, by in­te­rior de­signer Thomas Hamel, of the sin­u­ous ‘E-turn’ bench by Brodie Neill,” says Will. “It acts al­most as a sculp­ture.”

The hor­i­zon­tal sur­faces in the gar­den ref lect some of the reg­i­men­ta­tion of the ar­chi­tec­ture – a plane of grass, a Ja­panese court­yard of white Cowra peb­bles, the rec­tan­gu­lar pool of aqua wa­ter, the stone sur­face of the pa­tio – but this is off­set by a num­ber of ex­pres­sive el­e­ments. The in­ter­sec­tion of the pa­tio and lawn is soft­ened by a gen­er­ous fring­ing of mondo grass that both adds tex­ture and bridges the two spa­ces. Ken­tia palms, with their whis­per of leaves when in mo­tion, line the bor­der of the prop­erty and frame the lin­ear wa­ter fea­ture with its con­stant mo­tion of wa­ter and sound. Gled­it­sia, with its soft lime green leaves, has been care­fully po­si­tioned and pruned so as not to com­pro­mise the view from ei­ther the top or ground level of the house. “We also worked with ar­borists on the ex­ist­ing Port Jack­son fig, which is po­si­tioned at the har­bour’s edge,” says Will. “We cre­ated a beau­ti­ful sculp­tural form by get­ting rid of all the epi­cormic growth on the trunk and cel­e­brat­ing the nat­u­ral sweep of the tree through which to view the har­bour.”

This is an edited ex­tract from Gar­den by Wil­liam Dan­gar (Mur­doch Books, RRP$69.99). Signed copies are avail­able to pre-or­der now at robert­

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