‘Lakeview’, at 127 Hopetoun Circuit, Yarralumla, is a group of 11 townhouses facing Lake Burley Griffin designed by Harry Seidler in 1982 and completed in 1984. The townhouses enjoy an uninterrupted northerly view of the Lake and Black Mountain, with the design of the group ensuring that each house is oriented toward the view.
The group houses exhibit a number of the central ideas present throughout Seidler’s illustrious career: the building as a radiating presence; large outdoor spaces in front; restrained, sober character and the relationship between straight and curved lines.
They represent one of a small number of medium density housing projects in Canberra designed by Seidler, the other major ones being Campbell Group Housing (1964-68) and Garran Housing (1968, demolished in 1999). Other buildings in Canberra designed by Seidler include the Canberra South Bowling Club (1959), Ethos House (1970) and the Barton Offices (1973). Seidler’s only detached houses in Canberra are the Bowden House (1951-52) and 12 Yapunyah Street, O’Connor.
The 11 houses are each 230 square metres and constructed of solid masonry materials throughout. Walls are of grey face brick, cavity construction, with concrete floors and tiled steel framed roofs.
Each house is individually air conditioned. The plan of the group is fan shaped, emanating from a central landscaped garden which provides access to the individual, private courtyard entrances. Underneath this garden are the underground garages—ingeniously lit with daylight by large, sculpturally formed openings which emerge in the gardens. The central swimming pool is screened by similarly curved walls, as are most courtyards and the stairwells and driveway entrance to the underground garages.
The houses follow the natural slope of the site and are planned on a split level system which, including the garages, spans 5 levels. The first living level contains the living room which faces north and opens onto a screened garden. Each living room has an individually designed open fire place. The dining room, kitchen and family room are located on the middle level, along with the entrance. From here, stairs lead up to the main bedroom, which faces north, then up further stairs to the other bedrooms overlooking the central garden.
The play between straight and curved lines continues inside the houses. The plans are identical (with the exception of an eastern entry for houses 1, 2 and 11 resulting in larger family rooms) and interior spaces are arranged so that the split levels merge in a high, clerestory lit space above the dining area. The dining area is overlooked by the mezzanine study; its curved parapet and that of the dining room restating the forms used in the entrance courtyard and garden.
Sources and further reading
- Kenneth Frampton and Philip Drew, Harry Seidler: Four Decades of Architecture, London, 1992
- Harry Seidler: Selected and Current Works, The Master Architect Series III, Melbourne, 1997
- Short biography of Harry Seidler