This season we chose Peter Stutchbury’s Invisible House as the backdrop to our autumn collection. The house has been awarded both locally and internationally, and is recognised as a quintessential piece of modern Australian architecture and therefore the perfect setting for our design focused campaign.
Photography by Will Braden.
Found tucked under the ridge line, hidden within the vast bushlands of the Megalong Valley in New South Wales’ Blue Mountains, the Invisible House does as its name suggests, blends harmoniously into the rural Australian landscape so that it almost seems invisible.
The invisibility is in part due to the roof: it acts as a dam which allows water to pool and reflect the sky and the surroundings, emphasising the horizon. Rust-toned steel boxes sit atop, used to open the generous living space below to light and air, with one housing additional bedrooms and bathrooms.
The house was designed to feel intuitively a part of its geographical surroundings. “The current attitude to design has grown from our land and the myriad of people who have come to occupy this place. We look afar, but ultimately rely on our own resources to conjure an outcome,” says Stutchbury. The materials chosen reflect this ethos; raw form concrete, glass, stacked stone, brass, hoop pine plywood and fencing wire making up both the external and internal build.
These materials, although seem harsh, are used in a way to create a sense softness that allows for liveability. They also once again serve the purpose of reflecting the typical Australian terrain the Invisible House sits on: the sensitivity to the surroundings is what makes it so spectacular.
Inside feels large, yet not overwhelmingly so, with the living and sleeping areas connected by a wide corridor which runs the length of the western side. Inspiration was taken from the nearby Jenolan Caves with a central courtyard that is home to a fire pit at the heart of the house, reminiscent of a campsite albeit protected from the weather. Most of the internal space however can be easily opened to both the elements and the breathtaking views of the rural surrounds, with large windows and sliding shutter doors making up the exterior.
The elements though, can be harsh. Exposure is constant: day-long searing sunlight, cold winds racing up the valley and hot winds hitting the house from the deserts out west. The design then had to be innovative; the roof creates shade and acts as a thermal device, the floors have hydronic heating and geothermal systems regulate the temperature.
There are unexpected details throughout the house that elevate the rawness of the design. The beautiful formply joinery, the raw brass bathroom fittings and door hardware, diagonal steps, plywood ceilings, balustrades constructed from star pickets, boxed eyries and stacked stone walls. It is a delicate balance between what is natural and what is manmade, staying true to Stutchbury’s dedication and respect of his surroundings.
In all, the Invisible House feels as though it has always belonged to the land it’s found on, with a raw, natural beauty that is uniquely Australian. It allows the opportunity to connect to what surrounds – the wild skies, the silver gumtrees, the uninterrupted bush – while offering a refuge from the realities of rural Australian weather. It offers a perfect dichotomy with a sense of openness being met with a feeling of shelter.