date of completion:
265-267 Edinburgh Road, Castlecrag, NSW
classification / typology
Residential / Houses (RES)
– Willoughby Council Local Environmental Plan 2012 Heritage Item l26
Scott Robertson, Louise Cox
The Audette house is Peter Muller’s first domestic design after returning to Australia from architectural study in America on a Fullbright scholarship. Commissioned in March 1952 to design an American colonial house, Muller chose instead to respond to the natural landscape of Castlecrag and the original Walter Burley Griffin plan for the suburb.
This house demonstrates the characteristics of Muller designs that were to follow: attenuated, long low horizontal forms that extend into the Australian landscape. Materials were used in their natural state with the design originally intended to have stone walls. Due to budget considerations, the client substituted extruded red brick and terrazzo slabs for the intended roughly dressed stone walls, inspired by Wright’s “Falling Water”. Muller devised a response to conceal the bricks where the grout was left to ooze and mortar joints were left un-struck. This technique was subsequently known as “snotted” brickwork. The exposed hardwood timber trusses and framing of the house were intended to be left in their natural state, allowed to weather and display patina.
The Audette house had a flexible and spacious interior which blended inside with outside through its generous use of floor-to-ceiling glass, axial planning and overlapping forms. Whilst its presence on the main street of Castlecrag is formidable, the living spaces are focused on a north-facing courtyard that embraces bushland and harbour vistas and appropriate admittance of sunlight.
Text adapted from an entry by Jacqueline Urford in Australia Modern: Architecture, Landscape and Design 1925-1975 (2019, Thames and Hudson).
Interview with architect Peter Muller (The Audette House – Sydney Living Museum)