Inspired by the Suzhou courtyard gardens of China, the design of the garden preceded the design of the house. The design philosophy was for the building to relate to the landscape. Located in the middle of a residential block, the building and landscape integrate to create a serene, intimate world within a dense community context. Following the tradition of Chinese architecture, the exterior space was the primary conceptual element from which the boundary of the house was laid.
The house was designed as a series of pavilions. In each of the public rooms – the living room, dining room, kitchen, the family room, and the library – are four columns which define each space like a pavilion and link them by corridors and connecting stairways. Each of the pavilions has its own focused view of the garden and individually reveals the mystery offered by the courtyard concept. Movable timber screens offer a high degree of privacy and solar control. In addition, sandblasted glass overhangs effectively shade the glazing from the summer sun, and yet are transparent enough to allow winter light through to the interior. By night, the house glows like a lantern. [Bing Thom Architects]