Designed and Built
1968 – 1969
Alts and Adds 2005
Alts and Adds 2007
Pymble Avenue, Pymble
5 Bedroom, Study, 2.5 Bath, 5 Car (Garage)
© Richard Glover
Fleeing the claustrophobic, crumbling dwellings of war-ravaged Europe, Modernism’s architects dreamed of a house without walls. The embodiment of this dream was a lineage of extraordinary projects; from Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye to Mies Van Der Rohe’s Farnsworth House and Philip Johnson’s Glass House. While these houses promised an idyllic connection to nature, liberated from confining walls, they were not without their own problems. The Villa Savoye was gradually ambushed by its suburban setting, the Farnsworth House was vulnerable to floods and freezing, and the Glass House transformed at night into a recursive hall of mirrors. Designed by architect Peter Hirst, the 1969 Blunt House continues the legacy of these legendary forebears. It is a house with few walls, its living spaces enclosed by glass and connected to the immediacy of the outdoors.
But the Blunt House also has a unique advantage: this remarkably open, light-filled house is surrounded by a tall, protective hedge. To live in the Blunt House is to experience a perfect synthesis of building and landscape, an uncompromised private domain without the need for shutters or doors. An unmistakably Modernist design, the house is composed of sweeping horizontal lines, with few disruptive vertical elements. Contained by the continuous planes of ceiling and floor, every room in the house is level with the landscape. Spaces unfold over a single storey, with a step down in the middle that divides the house into living and sleeping pavilions.
Roof and floor extend beyond glass doors and into the garden. Seemingly suspended, the roof is lined in painted timber boards that magnify the light. The subtle horizontal lines of the ceiling are echoed in the standing seam cladding of the almost flat roofs and faint indentations in rendered brick walls. Continuous clerestory windows beneath the eaves provide constant views to the greenery beyond. The floor is a level carpet of masonry tiles that travels smoothly out into sheltered courtyards. Filtered by the tall Murraya hedge and golden Robinia trees, or reflected off the pool, dappled light falls over courtyards, lawns and low roofs.
Unhindered, breeze and birdsong travel through the house. Contrasting with the expansive entertaining spaces, the bedroom wing is enclosed and intimate. Set down from the living pavilion, the sleeping area features a traditional cellular arrangement of bedrooms and bathrooms. A private lightwell shelters the main bathroom, while a verandah (added later) encircles the bedrooms.
“With pool deck and living room virtually at eye level, this single level residence features a degree of intimacy, openness and exposure to the landscape rarely found in today’s multi-storey, block-swallowing mansions.”