The adventure of arriving at Hollander House begins with the drama of Grandview Drive and an arrival under the architect’s shell-roofed garage supported by three hand-formed ferro-cement columns that immediately evoke memories of the Antonio Gaudi’s Barcelona architecture. The surprises continue with the rounded corners of the asymmetrical front door and the lobular timber panels of an adjacent gateway.
Inside, Hollander’s interior architecture continues this adventuresome exploration of the site’s potential by following the site’s slope through a terrain-embracing floorplan. While each zone of living space is universally functional and efficient; the materials, the internal spaces, and their individual views into surrounding bushland are calibrated to the setting. Using the definition popularised by the American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, it fulfils all of the criteria of an ‘organic’ house developed specifically for the site.
The architect’s ambitious exploration of elliptical geometry working in the medium of steel-reinforced cement is a near-ideal fusion of medium and architectural intent. The interiors and exteriors are carefully calibrated to create a building that grows out of the site. As Frank Lloyd Wright said of organic architecture, “No house should ever be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill.” Hollander’s house at 81 Grandview Drive fulfils that criterion.
Hollander developed a floor plan enveloping three levels beginning at the entrance hall and office, continuing through the living area to the kitchen/dining area, and ultimately ascending to the casual recreation room at the highest elevation. The elliptical walls are not governed by mathematics but as the architect told a journalist in an interview as the house was nearing completion, “I chose curves which I thought were correct aesthetically”. His multiple levels have been carefully displaced to allow internal long views and vistas.
"I chose curves which I thought were correct aesthetically." David Hollander
The interior architecture of domestic settings, large and small, have hierarchies and in the case of Hollander’s house, the social centre is the lounge with its free-flowing hearth which, evidenced by the spotless chimney breast, draws perfectly allowing little or no smoke to escape into the room. By carrying the heat and smoke through an internal masonry channel to the steel chimney, the fireplace also allows the passive capture of heat to warm the house for hours after the fire has been extinguished. Facing the fireplace, the architect designed circular seating that fosters social interaction or in the absence of guests, encourages lounging.
While a home office is adjacent to the front entrance, the private zones for the bedrooms, baths and the informal recreation space are tucked away behind and appropriately distant from the public spaces. Most of these rooms open onto private decking enveloped by the exterior walls and the surrounding sandstone escarpment.
The current owner, a professional interior designer, has kept the faith with Hollander’s vision and worked assiduously to recover elements of the original design. “I found a 1972 magazine article on the house,” she recently told an interviewer and “that allowed me to see what it originally looked like.” The interior designer also revived the architect’s original lighting plan keeping the patinated copper fixtures and adding new elements in the same scale and material.
The architect’s lighting programme features copper wall and ceiling fixtures supplemented with concealed indirect lighting set into the curved internal recesses. These concealed luminaires wash the walls with warm reflected light in unexpected places providing another element of surprise to the interiors.
The indirect internal lighting is further enhanced by small-scale hand-formed skylight towers that thrust their opaque lenses toward the sun to deliver internal light where it is needed. Hollander has also introduced small glazed eyelids in his undulating roof surfaces to form what could be described as “light folds” to bring natural light inside and provide glimpses of the bush setting outside. With its skylight towers and roofline “light folds”, the fully lighted house must be a spectacle at nightfall.
Interior surfaces are, of necessity, hand-finished to produce the constantly curving wall and ceiling planes; then the walls and ceiling were sprayed with a cement/silicate mineral (perlite) mixture that provides a matt surface that has insulation and sound-absorbing qualities. The flooring, also laid with curved seams, is formed from fine-sieved washed quartz pebbles selected as a colour complement to the white interior walls and ceiling.
The house’s exterior finishes are also laid over the hand-shaped roof and wall forms but unlike the interior, they are finished with a more granular cement render. The architect has paid close attention to the roof drainage of water by designing and forming functional furrows and drip-lines over the porch overhangs, doors, windows and other appropriate areas. The centuries-old drip-line technique, known from traditional stonemasonry, avoids water drips over and under window and door openings.
David Hollander trained at the University of Sydney, concluding his studies in the mid-1960s. He later joined the Canberra office of Towel Rippon and Associates before accepting a position with the established Sydney practice Devine Erby Mazlin (today DEM) in 1974. He later became a Director of the firm. DEM’s notable projects of that era include the award-winning IBM headquarters at West Pennant Hills and their former offices on Sailors Bay Road, Northbridge where Hollander designed a glass-walled lift. The architect was elevated to a Fellowship of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects (now AIA) in 1975.
"I'm still convinced that poured concrete will be a viable, economical alternative material in domestic architecture" David Hollander
The sweeping curves of Grandview Drive have been laboriously carved from the sandstone slopes of the 140-metre high Bilgola Plateau. In the late 1960s, the Sydney University-trained architect David Hollander found a heavily treed allotment just below the crest and began a restrained excavation of the site for his new home.
Some of the earliest precedents for the organic methodology of Hollander’s architecture can be found in the fluid adobe buildings of the Southwestern United States and Africa. These adobe buildings are erected manually and grow with unquestioned integrity from their immediate environments. The same is true of the creation of Hollander’s ferro-cement structure; only the human hand could shape the Grandview Drive house’s contours and curves.
"You can add a bit on a normally straight wall or take a bit off, and it won't really make that much difference to the rest of the plan. But with a house like this, altering one curve means everything is out!" David Hollander
Without a generous diameter, a circle-based building constructed in this way rarely exceeds two formal storeys but a great deal of internal volume has been captured by modest excavation. While there are technical and aesthetic restraints in this form of design and construction, the architectural rewards of the strength of domes come from their ability to avoid conventional internal walls and columns for support.
Some of Australia’s most celebrated circular-plan buildings include Roy Grounds’ Australian Academy of Science building at the Australian National University, Canberra (1956) and on a domestic scale, Peter Muller’s famous dome-roofed “Kumale”, in nearby Barrenjoey Road, Palm Beach (1955). Significantly, Muller’s circular-plan interior architecture has echoes in Hollander’s elliptical floor plans, concealed indirect lighting and the use of internal planters.
The architect has designed a plan that truly flows. This is not the frequently cited but rarely sighted ‘spatial flow’ all too often assigned to conventional open-plan interiors but a true flow of interior architecture that moves like liquid from one zone into another unencumbered by corners and partitions. This house has always intrigued the public. During construction in 1971, Hollander told The Sydney Morning Herald that while he was working at the site, “about 200 passers-by, all complete strangers, walked into the house over the Easter weekend”. Australian House and Garden magazine voted the house one of the top five houses of the year in 1973.
Newport Beach is known for its 1.3 km long Pacific Ocean beach front, running from Newport Head in a gentle arc to Little Reef, a 1 km long sandstone reef.
Newport sits between the Pacific Ocean to the east and Pittwater to the west. Its ocean beach is patrolled by Newport Surf Life Saving Club. On the shores of Pittwater are several marinas and small shipyards, including the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club and the Royal Motor Yacht Club, serving mainly pleasure craft.
One of Newport’s most distinctive features is a broad flat rock platform at the south end of the beach. The full-size saltwater lap pool atop the platform is an iconic feature of Sydney’s northern beaches, having been a favourite subject of revered Australian photographer Max Dupain in the 1930s and 1950s.
Nearby are the shops, cafes and restaurants of Newport Village, with its variety of specialty and boutique shops set in a true village atmosphere. The Newport Arms Hotel is located on the shore of Pittwater and is a landmark venue. It is regarded not only as an iconic pub but also for its spectacular views of Bayview, Church Point, Scotland Island and Ku-ring-gai National Park.
Newport is a short 20mins drive to Palm Beach or Manly to the south.
The home is within the sought after catchments for the primary and high school. Pittwater House is located in the nearby suburb of Collaroy. Knox Grammar School and Abbotsleigh are serviced by private bus.
Newport is situated 31 kilometres north of Sydney’s CBD. Newport is well serviced by express bus services to Sydney’s CBD taking around 56 mins. Travelling by car, it takes around 40 minutes to the Museum of Contemporary Art located in Sydney’s CBD.
It is little wonder that Grandview Drive is a sought after location offering superb access to all the amenities required for today’s lifestyle.
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