House at Kilaben Bay

House at Kilaben Bay, Lake Macquarie, New South Wales, Australia. 1989-94

Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland, Regional Award (Overseas), 1995

"The client said he wanted a flat roof house, with a curved glass wall and a wet-edge pool overlooking the lake"

Lake front site, half acre facing south,  200 m long access corridor from north 4 m wide, covenant on height of building to preserve views from behind. Family with three children, swimming pool, boats, a tennis court. Single storey building with boathouse under. Restricted site options to allow car access to waterfront and fit in a tennis court and swimming pool. Land side curves generated by vehicle movement and turning. Lake side curves generated by 'traces de la main' through statutory building line setback co-ordinates and around existing trees. Foundations driven hardwood piles intosilt. Floor slabs and ground beams reinforced concrete. External walls concrete hollow core blocks rendered externally and insulated internally. Concrete block internal walls. Reinforced concrete round columns and roof beams. Flat roof slab and canopy of 140-190 mm reinforced concrete with chemical additive waterproofing and no membrane. Inverted roof insulation on top of slab with gravel ballast. Aluminium windows and door frames. Curved glass wall of 12 mm laminated glass with structural silicone joints. ‘Wet edge’ pool facing lake.

“Traces de la main” means, as it says literally, “the stroke of the hand” and reveals the possibility of chance, that the intuitive line on a piece of paper, or the chance movement of a physical piece of a design model – all based upon the designers application of ‘reason’ to assess the issues – can be the real truth, the perfect truth, that can reveal the design solution. I have drawn with a pencil, by a “traces de la main”, a stroke of the hand, an intuitive curve that was the defining form of a building that is now built. I have had to defend this intuitive and seemingly irrational curve against rationalisation by engineers, by surveyors, by builders – and yet it is, to my eye, the most beautiful curve.

Lindsay Johnston in conversation with Dr. Sabina Santovetti, 'Eschewing Computers', published in Italian in 'La Nuova Sfida Progettuale', Campanotto Editore, 2008. [ISBN 978 88 456 0960 2]