The Adventurous – 41A Foss Street, Forest Lodge
Every production of an artist should be the expression of an adventure of his soul.
– W. Somerset Maugham
This was an adventure that millions of people in Australia followed. The Grand Designs episode showed 41A Foss Street house as a fight on many levels. When the house was completed it turned out that the spirit of the fight and willpower of its creators – Chris Knierim and Belinda Knierim – translated into the design.
This review will look at how this happened and why it works.
To begin with, the house pushes you back physically. it is not very easy to look at this house from the street – you have to step back as far as you can till you hit the wall on the other side of the narrow road. If you dare to approach the house you have to be careful balancing on the narrow footpath while raising your head to look at the detail on the balcony underside.
Compared with the other houses nearby this one makes a completely different impression. It stands there aloof and reserved. The geometry is sharp, the edges are expressed and even the plants on the green wall are spiky. This is not soft and friendly ivy. These plants will cut your finger with their sharp leaves if you play with them.
Even the city pattern on the door has a diagonal direction as if it has been slashed. The pattern itself shows an aerial view of the neighbourhood – this is one more element that has the association of being higher than others.
Sharp, high, aloof – these are the three words that make up the first impression. Also, notice the font used to make the house number plate – very architectural Futura.
The materials come from the hardened range: steel, stone, frameless toughened glass. Strong and masculine is the other way to describe the look of this house.
While aloof, the house is not quiet. The sound of water coming from the courtyard is added to the visual impact.
Once inside, you see large expressed lines. They dominate the interior geometry. Another word that gets added to the house vocabulary is “reflection”. The reflections are everywhere: the ceiling, the walls, the furniture, even the floor. Moreover, when you were outside you also noticed that the window in the first floor shows the reflections of other houses.
The spikes that you first noticed outside on the green wall made their way into the house: the artistic photographs unexpectedly depict the Opera House as a group of spikes.
The ceiling looks almost as if someone slashed it with a long blade and light burst through the cut.
The design alludes more and more to physical alertness. The strong, shiny materials and rapid lines remind us of adventures, risk and… look at the floor! Here is the trophy!
Everything in this house speaks about confidence and strength. Even the water feature at the back is not a simple pond but a powerful waterfall. However, the water has been tamed and is now gushing between two glass blades. This is the symbol of man ruling over the nature. It wouldn’t be surprising if this waterfall were in fact a mini hydroelectric station. This is a decidedly yang house.
Only once you get to the private section – the first floor – the yin nature reveals itself. The black and white contrast gets toned down into a range of greys. The materials become less reflective. Transparent glass becomes opaque, softer timber replaces concrete, straight lines are accompanied by intricate ornaments and, as the epitome of yin, the master bedroom only receives low hanging lights that are of course made of glass but in the shape of balls. All this makes the private part of the house softer and giving in to the personality of its new owners.
There are many other unexpected elements and each of them will surprise you with the depth of design thought. This house is for someone brave and with a sense of adventure.
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