Modest in size, bold in expression | Photos

Reporter CAROLINE TANG and photographer SCOTT GELSTON toured the award-winning Southern Outlet House, designed, built and owned by Launceston architect Philip M. Dingemanse.

TRUCK lights, early 20th century naval camouflage, a very steep block and a firm nod to the bustling highway below, have combined and contrasted to create a family home on the edge of Prospect.

Constructed on a limited budget, the Southern Outlet House was completed at the end of last year.

The contemporary property won the Esmond Dorney Award for Residential Architecture – Houses (New) at the 2014 Tasmanian Architecture Awards from the Australian Institute of Architects.

The award panel stated that the house deserved high recognition by virtue of its character: playful and confident, modest in size, yet bold in expression.

In a way, the build was the reclamation of a forgotten piece of land that had been vacant for about two decades.

Philip Dingemanse spent three years of spare time and weekends to take his original design from paper to reality.

He can now see the realisation of his dream every day; he lives and works in the house with wife Kristine, daughters Scarlet, 10, Trixi, 3, and son Zimri, 8.

The energy-efficient, split-level property was built on a steep incline overlooking the Midland Highway.

On the one hand it sits in a highly visible, public space, but on the other, passing motorists might only capture a glimpse of its bold, unique design.

At night, the working truck lights outline the profile of the building and mimic the cars below.

Is it just another passing vehicle or a private property interacting with the public domain?

Also highlighting the exterior of the residence from the bush-like landscape and other houses surrounding it, is Dingemanse’s inspired choice of the dazzle camouflage technique.

The ship camouflage principle is not designed to hide the building from the public, but to obfuscate its appearance.

The colourful, almost angular mosaic effect forces a passerby to question: how big is that building?

Is it flat or three-dimensional?

In addition to the tight budget and strictly site-specific approach, Dingemanse imposed other restrictions to challenge the build and see what was possible.

What if no white internal walls were allowed?

What if all living spaces were lined in timber panels, to create a feeling of warmth?

Inside, the home feels like a spacious, inner-city townhouse, with its upper and lower levels, and clever storage systems.

The heart of the property is a red-walled, almost transparent stairwell, which changes hues depending on the sunlight filtering through each season.

The main living space incorporates a cosy, sunken lounge room, reminiscent of a 1970s conversation pit, a design technique favoured by modernist architects.

The concept gives the room depth and is contrasted with the picturesque, north-east view captured through the large window.

The compact kitchen does not forget the outside either, with a mirrored splashback allowing the viewer to keep one eye on the landscape and another on whoever is behind them.

The master bedroom, with en-suite, also has sweeping north-east views and a retail-like wardrobe space, which forgoes the constraints of walls and doors – just grab what you want to wear.

And the three resident children have their own world on the lower level.

Their shared, L-shaped bedroom, now divided by a trestle table covered in Lego, provides the option of one day being halved by a bookshelf or other partition.

Returning outside, what bridges the living space to the garage is a covered terrace, ideal for outdoor entertaining.

The centrepiece is a huge hammock, swinging against the backdrop of the scenery behind it.

‘‘The whole house is designed around the hammock, almost,’’ Dingemanse joked, as he posed with his children for a photo.

Hammock or no hammock, Dingemanse’s unique Southern Outlet House is well on its way to becoming a landmark piece of architecture to keep an eye out for along the highway.

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