We designed our house and studio in the Blue Mountains and built it with Phillip Ascott who became our collaborator. It would have been impossible to do a project like this without Phillip’s help. He was with us every step of the way, from the very first sketch drawings through to completion. This is one of the best projects we have done and certainly one of the most positive – a social engagement, as well as logistical and physical one. The many people who worked on this building helped us stay true to the vision of what we wanted it to be, firstly a home and then a kind of work of art. There where so many amazing characters who came into our lives, each with a story to tell that convinced us that we were doing the right thing by moving to the mountains. Sterling Wardell was a constant during the build and in him we gained a friend and someone like Phillip that we would happily go any where with. And we did, crossing the Wollemi by bike and also descending canyons in the Wollangambie and bush walking together during the build. It was Sterling who inspired us to explore the wilds of the Colo River. We raved about everything along the way, politics, art, the environment, architecture.
If we can do something like this, you can too. As Artists we have certainly been lucky and none of this would have happened without the support of our families and for this we are forever grateful. What we really appreciate is the open mindedness of all the people who helped put this thing together. It is mind boggling how standardized everything can seem when on sets out to design a building (with no experience and the eyes of an artist) and to do it on the budget we had and in the way we wanted it to be, driven by our aesthetic interests as much as a place to make our work in. These builder folks of the mountains are a testimony to the hand made and what a bunch of like minded highly skilled, intelligent and creative people can achieve. The house was built on the idea that every day life can be as experimental as any rarefied work of Art and I think we all lived up to that ideal during the process, in other words we had a blast. We wanted the house to project an aura and yet at the same time its interior would exude a certain kind of openess and light. Much of this house is hand built, despite its minimalist appearance and industrialized materials such as core-ten and concrete sheet. Joyce and myself and a bunch of amazing students at the now (tragically) defunct contemporary art school at the University of Western Sydney, hand glazed and fired about 3,000 architectural bricks and we also learned how to cut holes in steel with a plasma cutter, among many other things.
Is the house finished people often ask? By most people’s standards the answer is yes, for us the house is an ongoing project and undoubtedly it will mutate and change as time goes on, as every good house does. We knew we had met someone special in Phillip, I think it was the second time we met, he was running through the door on his way to go surfing and handed us a book to read while we were struggling away with the drawings A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction by Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa and Murray Silverstein of the Center for Environmental Structure of Berkeley, California, it was then that we knew we had found the right guy. If you are going to build a house I couldn’t think of a better book to read, or a better person to work with. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Pattern_Language