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    Wirra Walla Pavilion: is this Australia’s version of Glass House?

    Nathan Johnson

    A debut project for his father as the client has catapulted Matthew Woodward into the world of architecture, and his lakeside pavilion design on the NSW Central Coast makes for one grand entrance.

    Woodward was barely out of his Masters course at architecture school when he drafted ‘Wirra Walla Pavilion’; a 72sqm lakeside villa that weightlessly cantilevers from the dam’s embankment and floats a mere 500mm above the flood level.  

    The heavily glazed pavilion sits 200 metres from his father’s main residency and takes inspiration from the works of Mies Van de Rohe, Richard Neutra and more obviously Phillip Johnson’s Glass House.

    Inspiration: Like Philip Johnson's Glass House in Connecticut, USA the house’s lightweight framing allows the glass to dominate and subsequently the landscape seemingly sits within the transparent structure. (Image below: Wikimedia)

    The basically see-through house sits on a single horizontal plane that countersinks slightly into the natural topography of the embankment before cantilevering out over the spring-fed dam.

    Woodward designed all the structural elements – the floor plan, roof bed and graphite etched steel roof and floor – to be set in from the glass and with a minimised thickness. This means the frames are barely seen, letting the massive 2.7 x 2.5 metre Viridian VTough glass panels that wrap the middle do the talking.

    The house is built within a flood plane and Woodward needed to raise the building twice during council negotiations. Depending on how you look at it, the pavilion moves from the dam and slowly stiches into the landscape by moving back up into the topography and native grasses.

    As for its thermal performance, Woodward explains that the sliding glass panels can be opened to facilitate complete cross ventilation off the water and throughout the house and that the concrete roof slab provides a constant internal temperature.

    The landscape and exterior living areas complement Woodward’s flexible and simplistic design and establishes the house as a counter-balance of striking yet lightweight architecture. 

    Photography: Murray Fredericks. Source: Matthew Woodward Architecture

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