Fox Johnston - Ballast Point House, multi-generational living
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Ballast Point House, multi-generational living

Fox Johnston

House  /  Completed
Fox Johnston
Designed for multi-generational living, this courtyard house resolves a difficult 260sqm sandstone ridge site through creation of a podium base consisting of a garage and clever two-level, dual-key apartment over which rests a two-storey dwelling of light-filled spaces clustered around gardens and courtyards.

The main living level, a series of spaces gathered around courtyards and gardens, exists between two planes of folding off-form concrete floors and ceiling, anchoring the dwelling to the escarpment and providing the transition between the podium base and the lightness of the free-form upper level. This gesture delivers the design’s main resolving element in acknowledging both the lower and upper streetscapes of vastly differing character and allocating the varied aspects of the brief. The base, of recycled brick and white textured render, sitting firmly on the sandstone bedrock, consists of the garage and self-contained dual-key apartment, and is linked via a stair to the main living level. Here the spaces open to light and air, from the walled garden at the front, flowing around a central courtyard, to the balcony at the rear, cranked to views of the bushland reserve and harbour beyond. Above this on the upper level housing the family bedrooms, a lightweight, shifting roof-form expresses the district’s eclectic housing typologies in a collection of pitches, angled walls and metal reveals, dressed in a smoked grey timber cladding. Rooftop gardens to the front side and rear embody the family’s value of the natural, and aspirations to invite the outdoor world to characterize the internal spaces in every direction.

Ballast Point House synthesises interior design and architecture. Spaces are calibrated through an ongoing conversation between controlled tectonics, shifting geometry, and the movement of light and air through a series of gardens. The main living spaces, flowing from the central courtyard, fold down with the stepped concrete floor; plywood joinery and an off-form concrete ceiling anchor and harmonise. In the upper rooms, the undulating roof form – reminiscent of both the eclectic housing typologies of the district, and the natural beauty of the harbour and trees beyond the site – is expressed internally through the introduction of deeper colours and textures punctuated above a restraining datum line of natural accoya timber. The use of stone and rumbled brass in the bathrooms further reflect the human interaction with nature and time. The material palette is robust and refined, with recycled bricks, off-form concrete floors and ceilings, plywood joinery and sustainably sourced Accoya timber doors & windows. The upper level continues this soft, restrained palette with a combination of strict Accoya datum lines, natural stone tiling, wainscotted walls, and a faceted ceiling of duck egg blue, and carpets of deep indigo

Ballast Point House is embedded in the sandstone ridge on which it is perched and draws from this stabilizing natural feature as the starting point for its response to sustainable design. Further to exploiting the regulating powers of the natural bedrock, concrete floors include hydronic in-slab heating. The dwelling also comprises solar panels and battery storage, rainwater harvesting and greywater reuse for irrigation, equipping the house to be 92% off the grid. Indoor air temperature is moderated through the use of ceiling fans, operable glazing and deep window reveals with sliding cedar screens, and ultimately through careful juxtaposition of the garden spaces.


 245 mq
 Fox Johnston
 Fox Johnston Architects
 SQ Projects
 Structural: SDA; Interiors: Fox Johnston; Landscape: Dangar Barin Smith; Colour Consultant: Lyme Smith
 Anson Smart and Brett Boardman


Fox Johnston’s award-winning architectural practice focuses on permeability and integrity of built-form spaces.

Informed by the Australian landscape, our projects feature integrated sustainability measures to optimise the natural resources of water, wind and sunlight. Natural rhythms and topography are considered through all project concepts, as is the environmental context of each site, and the community beyond its parameters. We design bold, tactile, robust spaces – unique in their durable materials and light-filled permeability.

Embracing the delicate balance between functionality and the poetics of design, our projects include multi-residential, bespoke homes, cultural, commercial, education and retail.

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