A live-in water feature 3 stories up.

 

THE PROJECT

A little used terrace on the 3rd floor of an inner city townhouse was tragically underused, despite having panoramic views of the city. The space was a little too flat and uninspiring, offering no real interest for those in the main living areas adjoining it. Due to the existing (and essential) high walls on both side of this corner terrace, the views were enjoyed only by those tall enough to see it.

The owners' brief was to create an area that is quite sculptural and striking for those on the inside looking out; to provide a cooling and tranquil area for them, their cats, and close friends; to incorporate fish in some way; and to be able to use the space for entertaining and taking advantage of the city views.

Most importantly, they wanted to feel a world away from their busy careers. Being on the third floor, access and weight were important factors, and heavily influenced the materials and methods we could use.

 

THE DESIGN

We started by taking back some of the wasted space on the other side of the wall - the existing wall became the front of a planter. with another wall behind. Under this planter is a hidden water tank to top up the water feature and irrigate the plants.

We clad the rear and front of the planter in Corten steel, as these area would not be easily accessible for maintenance; to add some softness in the seating area, we clad the other wall with 3D Panels in a horizontal pattern that elongates the space.

A shallow channel borders 2 corners of the space adjacent to the house areas, and these form part of an infinity edge feature, as water cascades down the sides evenly. This also provides great swimming areas for the fish, and a deeper reservoir is partially hidden under the seating platform for them. The wet areas are tiled in a deep green, the darkness giving optimum reflecting properties when the water is not flowing.

A wide, deep seat was formed out of Corian, and this provides a large and comfortable seating area for entertaining, but also is wide and stable enough to act as a platform for spectacular views of the city. The whole area 'floats' above the water terrace, and is accessed by tumbled travertine steppers.

This space works so well because it has so many functions: it seats up to 8 people comfortably; provides viewing opportunities where there were none before; the movement of water drowns out the city noise when it is turned on, and transforms into a tranquil reflection pool when it's not; it's host to a thriving community of fish;and it has enlivened a 'dead' space into the centre of the house.

A dramatic space that incorporates moving water, a 'floating' outdoor lounge and observation platform, and plenty of fish.

A spillway over 2 sides, elevated lounge area and 'floating' travertine steppers a ensure that water is the star, giving a sense of calm and reflecting light into the living areas of the house.

Before - a sad and unused space where some usable outdoor space was badly needed.