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The renowned architect Guilford Bell was famous for the use of symmetry in his homes. Fireplaces in living areas were often framed by two doorways, one either side. Taken to the extreme, some of his homes even included two sets of street numbers, placed on either side of the façade. “There’s a sense of calm and order with symmetrical designs. Symmetrical features and spaces also have a sense of familiarity and nothing is jarring,” architect Ed Lippmann says. “People naturally respond to symmetry.”
The Lippmann Partnership designed a two-storey symmetrical house in Watsons Bay, Sydney. Timber features extensively inside and out, to allow the symmetrical form to be clearly “read”. The house is composed of six identical-sized modules, each one measuring six metres in width and four metres in depth. “The dimensions meant that each module could fit into the back of a truck, but they also allowed uniform plywood lining on walls, floor and ceilings,” Lippmann says.
At ground level of the Watsons Bay house are the kitchen, living and dining areas, as well as what Lippmann refers to as a symmetrical, pill-shaped guest powder room. Clad in ebony, the identical rounded ends create a sense of an object within the space. Upstairs are three bedrooms, including the main bedroom with dressing area. “The symmetry brings a mathematical discipline to the design. There’s a sense of logic, with spaces that have a sense of order,” says Lippmann, who often feels “deconstructed” design, with spaces and features adding surprise, can, if not handled appropriately, brings a sense of confusion. ….