Ziggurat House

The design for this dwelling was inspired by the temple structures built between 3000 and 600 BC in the ancient Mesopotamian Valley and Western Iranian plateau, having the form of a terraced step pyramid of successively receding stories or levels.  This design concept explores inverting this receding terraced arrangement producing in our view, a more elegant and contemporary ‘temple for living’. 


The break up of the buildings main elements, defined in elevation by the horizontal structural lines, help to identify the structure and functions contained behind. The buildings profile is further strengthened with a deliberately weighted treatment of the materiality of the external facades adding to the aura of curiosity and secrecy as to what’s contained within.


At night the buildings elevations come alive; its transparency is realised when the property is lit from within. Views of foliage and tree tops coming through the elevation hint at what lies beyond and it is only as you pass under the front cantilever through the powder coated metal plinth that the warm, light filled heart of the building is exposed. The interior of this dwelling is an experience of colour, light and shadow. The colouration and detail of the surfaces combined with the lighting strategy results in a series of internal spaces one would not normally associate with domestic architecture. This initially throws the visitor but later implores them to question the status quo. 


The floor plan for this dwelling is conceived as a flexible pattern or weave of built and unbuilt spaces stitched together by a central circulation route/external courtyard linking each level of accommodation. These unbuilt or trapped spaces become a series of outdoor rooms (in some cases vertical rooms), which bring the experience of landscape and foliage into the core of the dwelling and stimulate a strong spatial dialogue between opposing areas. These secret gardens vary in orientation and ensure every room has direct access to natural daylight and ventilation while developing a carefully controlled relationship between inside and outside. They also play host to a variety of plant species ensuring a blossomed and scented environment all year round. At night, the lighting strategy for these external rooms provide a lit backdrop to the internal spaces and provide a variety of outlooks as one moves from space to space within the dwelling. 


The building is entered at lower ground floor level under the cantilevered structure of the front façade. The accommodation at entry level comprises a main entrance hallway, home cinema, gym, wine cellar, guest accommodation/house keeper’s quarters and garage. There is also a plant room at this level which houses the dwellings mechanical and electrical needs. From the entrance hall, a planted central void [part internal/part external] travels vertically up through the building acting as a navigation device to the upper floor levels, allowing good natural light penetration and ventilation to all floors. Living, kitchen and dining accommodation is located at Upper Ground Floor level together with a Family Library. The main pool area and external ‘cabana‘ are also located at this level. Three further bedrooms with en suites and a Home Office/Study are located at First Floor level. 


The material palette chosen for this dwelling, while kept to a minimum offers abundant contrasts. Polished concrete floors contrast against coloured soft velvet curtains and voiles. Warm black stained timber courtyards contrast against green foliage/planting. Exposed concrete and handcrafted bronzed fins internally and externally offering obscured views contrast against frameless glazed openings offering unimpeded views across the surrounding countryside. Solid walls of varying coloured marbles and timber contrast against glazed walls and open balustrading. Mirrored walls internally and externally create reflectance and shadow castings at all times of the day.


Sustainable elements such as a grey water harvesting system and a boiler linked to an air to water heat pump have been incorporated into the design of this dwelling to maximise the use of renewable energy. All external courtyards drain to this grey water harvesting system located below the outdoor pool area. This harvested grey water is used to feed the irrigation systems to all courtyard planting, WC’s and washing machines.

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