Big Rock jettyEdit profile
BIG ROCK is a 140 acre property two hours drive from Sydney. It is a place where owners and their friends escape from the city on a weekly basis to indulge in activities close to nature. There is a small creek along which a bush walk has been created , full of tree ferns providing an overhead canopy. There is a river with a swimming hole, near which echidnas have their burrow. When the river dries out you swim in the dam just below the grape vines. The grape vines produce wine which is of intense richness as the summer is hot and dry. Staying at Big Rock you bushwalk, ride bikes, fish in the dam, but most importantly you immerse yourself in the beauty of nature. You watch the kangaroos gathering at the edge of the dam in the early morning, you watch the fog lifting on every winter morning, you listen to kookaburras and you watch the beautiful sunsets that occur almost every day. When driving during the day you need to be careful not to run over a turtle or a snake, at night you have to watch out not to hit a wombat crossing the road. As is common in rural Australia scanning the horizon provides little evidence of any signs of human activity. The above average rainfall gives strong potency to the nature that is visible everywhere in the Kangaroo Valley. For an architect who came from Europe the process of understanding the Australian landscape was an important part of growing into the local culture. You learn that the green colour of surrounding hills is impressive but it is no match for the green of the grass fields of Europe. It takes some time to understand that dry looking grass is a natural colour for Australian grass and trees do not provide much shade. The forest you look at is very transparent to light and not solid dark green and trees need to be observed from a close distance to be fully appreciated. What we call a river may carry water only after the rain, and with no seasons the trees shed bark instead of leaves. Jetty/Gazebo is a small structure located to be in the centre of those activities. Jetty/Gazebo brief included only 2 components: jetty with a small storage room for fishing gear and other equipment used in fish farming. Very early in the process it was established that one more aspect was to be added: the gazebo. Location of the jetty/gazebo is on the edge between the dam and forest, away from the larger open spaces. The line formed by the edge of the forest is followed by a sandstone edge to the water. The jetty is suspended above the water and the gazebo is suspended toward the trees. A slight imbalance created by positioning of the storage room defines the size of each part. The jetty is larger and caters to more social activity such as swimming, fishing and picnics at sunset. The smaller gazebo is quieter: a place of reflection, watching the birds and reading a book. No part of the deck touches the water or forest emphasising respect to those natural elements. The form is essentially made of two horizontal planes: the deck and roof. The horizontality of the jetty/gazebo allows it to be on the edge between the forest and water. The structure is transparent and economic like the forest itself. Steel is used to the maximum potential and you can feel a degree of deflection that has been allowed for in the design, with the silver colour of the steel referencing back to the bark of the surrounding gumtrees. The ’garden’ of this typical Australian country estate is characteristically not formal and not planted. The Crux is to provide the relationship with nature by enhancing a composition created by the forces of nature and to draw attention to it. The role of the designer is to provide the point from which this nature can be appreciated and interacted with. Jetty/Gazebo is such a point taking its strength from its surrounds.