A Concrete Refuge on a Suburban Street – Concrete House by Ian Bennett Design Studio
Concord, NSW, Australia

Photography Katherine Lu
Words Emma-Kate Wilson

Ian Bennett Design Studio’s Concrete House stands out on a quiet cul-de-sac in Sydney’s inner west, providing a concrete refuge on the suburban street.

The Concrete House is an homage to clean, minimalist lines, and simple, modernist form. Architect Ian Bennett worked in close concert with his clients to design a house that blends family space all while honouring tactility, simplicity and restraint.

Each of the carefully considered materials offer low-maintenance qualities.

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The minimalist approach was also driven by necessity. A previous painful experience of dealing with council regulations saw the clients adopt a plan driven by the uncompromising complying development (CDC) process. A range of requirements needed to be met for the house to comply: the Concrete House had to occupy a limited scope of the block, the first floor had to be narrower than the ground floor, and the house had to have a conditional set back from the road.

The architect, rather than let these be challenges to the design, saw these qualities as advantages. The narrower first floor allowed the designers to maximize the northerly aspect with windows facing north and offering privacy from the busy park across the street. The aesthetic of the build from the street was also considered – rather than appearing as a dominate concrete block, the house modestly peeps up from the back of the site.

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Each of the carefully considered materials offer low-maintenance qualities. The white façade is built with a minimalist blend of concrete and white Alucobond, with timber battens that provide privacy and shade for the one window with a street-facing, westerly aspect. The clients’ love of concrete (which extends to owning a concreting business) runs throughout the home, from the walls, to the frame of the house and the floors on the ground floor.

In the upper-level bedrooms, the architect decided to use timber flooring to add all-important warmth to the intimate spaces. Downstairs, the concrete visually connects each room, and flows out to the existing pool. The concrete sanctuary is completed with an open plan living-dining-courtyard, that seamlessly blends with the pool and garden area. The glass doors can be opened up, to allow for large family gatherings for the clients’ extended family. For these important family moments, a retractable glass roof that covers the skylight enables the outdoor space to be used no matter the weather.

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The low-maintenance materials follow Le Corbusier’s modernist mantra: “a house is a machine for living in.” The home does the work for the family, and Ian Bennett Design Studio has created a seamless, flowing house that invites easy, open-plan living.

The Concrete House combines a minimalist design approach with natural timber accents that bring warmth.
Bright pops of colour contrast clean, concrete lines.
The skylight has a retractable glass roof that can provide shelter from the weather while complying with tight CDC regulations.
The house was designed around the original pool, and the brief was to ensure the space seamlessly flowed around this existing feature.
Published 6 November, 2019
Photography  Katherine Lu
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