Holman House front onto Pacific

How a small house overlooking the Pacific became an object of attention? It isn’t simply that the architects, Durbach Block, have designed a house clinging to the edge of a cliff, they have it jutting out over the ocean with a 70-metre drop below. It is not simply how the Holman House captures and frames the Pacific and the coast that makes this building so interesting, it is the mastery of space. There is a great interplay of surfaces, combining fineness and roughness, creating subtle contrasts. An understated, low-profile street presence intentionally contrasts the dramatic, cinematic revealing of the vast ocean presence over which House Holman presides. This single-family house in Dover Heights is comprised of two overlapping forms.

The curvaceous upper-level form is propped off the cliff face and sited to capture the portraits of the vertical cliff views to the north and south, while the expansive ocean horizon to the east is further dramatized by the compressed horizontal landscape-like aperture. The overall result of this highly accomplished project is a loose but very comfortable fit with the landscape, and a commanding treatment of the Pacific Ocean which leave the senses mesmerized. The design team have carefully retained and replanted the various plant species that have been thriving in this highly exposed cliff face setting. They spent more than six months with the clients, Anthony and Jennifer Holman, just thinking about the shape. The Holman House is anything but boring. Although the owners have lived in it for 2 years now, Jennifer Holman says she is still thrilled to get up in the morning and make coffee while watching the ocean swelling below her feet. The Durbach Block, Holman House, in Dover Heights was one of the highlights of the 2004 Focus Tours. Besides appearing on the cover of Monument, Australia’s leading architecture and design magazine, it provided a glamorous backdrop for a fashion spread for Vogue Australia.

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