Situated above an expansive forest in the Blue Mountains in Australia, the House of Many Roofs serves as weekend home for a couple and holiday home for their growing family of three generations. Since the large family had outgrown the original 1,750 SF three-bedroom home, the clients decided to expand the existing house to add several new bedrooms. In addition, the brief asked for a more direct connection between the main living area on the upper level and the garden, situated on the level below and used for outdoor dining and entertaining.

 The clients also wanted to preserve the scale and geometry of the existing house and ensure that their neighbor’s views of the mountains across their roof were preserved. The remodel and addition to the house had to comply with the strict fire code of the region that limited the palette of allowable exterior materials and imposed regulations for operable windows facing the forest.

The proposed scheme takes cues from the geometry of the exiting house by adopting and multiplying the original pitched roof. Each room or group of rooms in the house is located under its own hut-like roof, creating a sense of completion and privacy as if each space was a house on its own. The tall ceiling heights, washed in natural light from the skylights located at the pitch of each roof, add a feeling of generosity.  In addition, large windows overlooking the mountains, draw the vast landscape is into the living spaces. The existing small bedrooms are preserved, and their flat interior roofs within the large living room volume become a play platform that is accessible via a ladder.

The new expanded floor plan with a total of 3,100 SF adds a master suite to the main level and a guest quarter to the lower level adjacent to the garden, and the garage has been converted to a self-contained studio, overall adding three new bedrooms and 1,350 SF.  Hallways on the interior are eliminated to create an uninterrupted flow between the spaces, and the public areas - kitchen, dining room, and living room - are combined into a single large space. A new stair adjacent to the kitchen allows for a direct access to the outdoor dining area on the lower level, improving the flow between the social areas in the house. A more intimate family room is situated in the back of the house and allows for more quiet activities. 

On the exterior, the house with its many roofs of varying heights and pitches, is reminiscent of the mountain range beyond.  In order to unify the new and the existing volumes of the house, a single material was used on the exterior to wrap the volumes into a singular whole. The material, standing seam zinc cladding, recalls the clap board characteristic for the area and is also one of the few materials permitted by code. Details are simplified, and the resulting new volumes are both abstract while also carrying the geometry of the original house. 

Client: Private
Type: Residential
Year: 2017
Location: Blackheath, Australia
Project Team: Katrin Terstegen, Luis Montoya, Ryan Han

Blackheath, Australia, 2017