Hidden in the earth
An earth-covered home was designed for a Belair block of land, Amy Noonan writes.
IT IS a property in which hobbit Bilbo Baggins would feel very at home – an architecturally designed earth-covered house surrounded by trees. Julie Pawsey and her late husband commissioned architect Paul Mitchell to design the house for their 4.08ha of land in Belair in 1993 and it was built by 1994.
‘‘Earth-covered is safer in the Hills – the bushfires just go over the top,’’ Mrs Pawsey says.
It means the Sheoak Rd house is also well hidden, she adds.
‘‘When you come down the drive, you can’t see it – people sometimes go away because they can’t find it, but it is there,’’ Mrs Pawsey says.
The house is currently configured as two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a study, while a galley kitchen with cork flooring has an ‘‘insinkerator’’. A European-style laundry is nearby.
There is an open-plan carpeted living area warmed by a slowcombustion stove in winter.
Mrs Pawsey says the house is sanctuary-like.
‘‘It’s very quiet. You can’t hear traffic, you don’t even know if it’s raining unless you look in the light wells,’’ she says.
It’s a popular house in which to host guests or entertain.
‘‘Everyone loves the house and the siting of it; they all say ‘I’d mind this house anytime’,’’ Mrs Pawsey says.
The views from the windows are incredible, she adds.
‘‘It’s got a very nice view of white gums mainly, and you can see the lights of the city at night,’’ Mrs Pawsey says.
‘‘You can see it through the trees – it is lovely.’’
Mrs Pawsey started growing roses on the land but admits it’s hard work and would recommend native plants to the home’s future owner.
A concentrated ‘‘weed purging’’ program means the land has been returned to a more natural state, with wildflowers and rare flora abounding.
There is also the convenience of Belair – ‘‘a nice country place and suburb’’ – a few minutes away, and Blackwood about 10 minutes’ drive.
Mrs Pawsey, who is downsizing, says the property would suit retirees who have the time to enjoy the home and the land around it. ‘‘It’s very nice land,’’ she says. ‘‘It overlooks the valley and the city. It’s very peaceful, quiet and beautiful.’’