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Black Rock House

This site is perched on one of the highest topographical locations along Beach Road. The brief was to design a house with strong connections to the bay in order to remind the owners of their passion for boating and enjoyment of cruise ship holidays. The building form is an island surrounded by open ‘green’ space. The roof and reflected ceiling are iconic. The shapes appear hull like and are highly articulated and funnel northern natural light to the living spaces below. Encapsulating this is a twisted ribbon leading edge – a very important face of this building. Geometrically, SAAJ Design needed to find a material that could transition from flat to curve, to then raking and curved and be suitable to withstand the aggressive coastal and ocean conditions. The material needed to consider thermal movement. The product chosen was Corian®. “A trip years earlier to Salone del Mobile, Milan, provided us with the opportunity to be inspired first hand with what Corian® could do.” said Sally Bartholomeusz.

The primary living, dinning, kitchen and alfresco spaces are located on the upper level to take advantage of the 270-degree views of Port Phillip Bay around to the Melbourne city skyline. Three tiers were created on this floor to enable views over each to that of the bay. The heights were also carefully positioned relative to adjoining ridgelines so that a panoramic view of the bay could also be enjoyed. Guest access is primarily via a central lift. When the lift door opens, guests are greeted to the expansive views and a 5.3m long island bench. The owner’s brief for this was to have something “special”. SAAJ Design sculpted a central piece that can be viewed from several positions both near and afar. It serves as a kitchen bench but also as the dining table. This hybrid design between architecture and furniture is something the SAAJ Design team has explored in previous projects. This results with a bespoke and highly customised interior to suit to the client’s needs.

The idea was to create an elongated benchtop in a capsule shape which would allow guests to sit around, including at the ends, but still have a run of drawers to the kitchen side. Like a teppanyaki bar, the host can facilitate the meal and then seamlessly be a part of the communal gathering. The owners have embraced this bold idea and often enjoy the company of up to 16 family and friends gathered around the table/bench at once.  It is a true island. This is reinforced by not including kitchen overhead cupboards but rather a glass wall which frames the horizon line of the bay.

Developing the nautical theme, SAAJ Design needed to find a material for the base which could curve to follow the shape of the benchtop, be set in to allow for chair and leg room but also then curve in 2 directions with varying radii in multiple planes so the entire piece would flow as one….This was geometrically very complex and very ambitious. SAAJ Design again thought of Corian®. There was some scepticism from the contractors if this was even possible and then talk of this needing to be fabricated overseas. However, collaboration between the architect/ builder/ joiner/ and Corian® fabricator succeeded. The work of the joiner (Homestead Cabinets) and Corian® fabricator (Pro solid) was exceptional. The 3-tiered platforms enable this piece to be viewed conventionally, from both below and from above. It is centrally positioned within the open floor plan and is the topic of many dinner conversations. On the kitchen side, the drawer faces were also fabricated from Corian® allowing the design to not need handles, to be functional and also very easy to clean. Hidden charging points have been recessed seamlessly to the underside at either end. The island transforms into the perfect workstation.

Opposite this island is a capsule shaped alcove with built in banquette seating. The base is shaped similarly to the island and also fabricated from Corian®. This piece of furniture appears to float. The rolled Corian® profile ergonomically allows one’s legs to comfortably rest. This also allowed the A/C grille to be detailed to disappear in the base.

At the end of this alcove is a cylindrical bar made from Corian®. It almost appears like part of the wall but when opened, theatrically, a series of curved glass shelves and housing spirits are revealed; an element where the ability of Corian® to be curved, self-supporting as beautiful concealed hinged doors. Pre-dinner drinks from the bar are had while chatting on the built-in banquette seating, followed by a gathering around the island bench.

Corian® bathroom benchtops become plinths for free form bench top basins. Likewise, Corian® was used as a seamless back drop to a free form bath which includes a curved transition from vertical wall to horizontal shelf. Recessed floor lights enable the surface and shapes to be flawlessly expressed.

“The collaborative approaches our office had with the builder, joiner and Corian fabricator was critical to the end quality result. The team approach to solve details, review 1:1 size part samples to test the product’s boundaries of what we could achieve was invaluable. A result, we as a team, along with the owners are very proud of.” Sally Bartholomeusz, SAAJ Design.

Corian® was selected for this project due to the product’s adaptability to be creative with organic forms, perform externally, be easily cleaned, durability and provide a visually pleasing matt finish. These were all important for the language of this building.

When considering using Corian® externally we faced the challenge of obtaining detailed technical information. There were not many examples in Australia, however through the collaboration process of working closely with Pro Solid (Corian® Fabricator) detailed information and review of drawings were obtained from Corian® overseas over a 6-month period. This included elaborate intermediary fixing brackets which had the capacity to move.

When designing the island bench, we were wanting to create tight radius points transitioning in different planes. It wasn’t until proto type samples were completed the extent, we could push the material to was realised.

“Using Corian allows the creative mind to explore. The adaptability of the material from lineal extrusion to organic forms opens up possibilities. The stylish low maintenance finish and seamless welding qualities adds to the visual impact of the product.”  Sally Bartholomeusz

About SAAJ Design

The practice of SAAJ Design was established in 1998 by directors Andrew Bartholomeusz and Sally Bartholomeusz who live and work in the Bayside area of Melbourne. They are brother and sister. Andrew is a registered Architect and Sally is an Industrial Designer. This cross fertilization of disciplines leads to a broad – minded approach to projects.

SAAJ Design studio’s skill set provides clients with not only architectural services but also a package complete with interior and furniture design.

Our work is contemporary by nature but diverse in outcome. SAAJ Design studio philosophy recognises that each client is unique in personality and with their own individual requirements. It also understands that each site contains unique characteristics, opportunities and restrictions. Combined with SAAJ Design’s innovative solutions, a dynamic, individual yet sensitive outcome can be assured.

Project Details

Design By: SAAJ Design Architects & Interior Design team
Builder: Brynor Constructions
Joiner: Homestead Cabinets & Furniture
Fabrication: Pro Solid
Photography: Dave Kulesza Photography

CORIAN® Colours


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