Night Sky House / Peter Stutchbury Architecture

Architects: Peter Stutchbury Architecture
Area: 1,700 Square Feet (158 Square Meters)
Year: 2020
Photography: Brett Boardman
Client: Basil Borun
Construction: Dimark Constructions
City: Blackheath, New South Wales
Country: Australia

The Night Sky House is the recipient of the prestigious 2021 Robin Boyd Award and embodies an architectural marvel combining ancient allure and modern innovation. Designed by Peter Stutchbury for a client with unique celestial interests and accessibility needs, the home features a distinct parabolic vaulted ceiling constructed from recycled bricks, enhancing its sustainability and architectural uniqueness. The central feature, an elliptical retractable skylight, is meticulously positioned to offer views of the stars, aligning with the client’s passion for astronomy. The design prioritizes accessibility throughout, ensuring seamless movement for the wheelchair-bound client. Moreover, the building incorporates advanced sustainability features such as photovoltaic panels, a large rainwater tank, and passive heating and cooling systems, setting a benchmark for future residential architecture.

Night sky house/peter stutchbury architecture

The latest recipient of Australia’s highest residential architecture award, the Robin Boyd Award 2021, is a residential architecture project that exemplifies a synthesis of historical depth and contemporary innovation. Entering the space, one is struck by its unique atmosphere—simultaneously ancient and modern, evoking the essence of diverse structures like a church, a castle, and a railway arch. This sensation is a testament to the varied inspirations that influenced the design, including a 19th-century Romanian ammunition bunker admired by the commissioning client and architectural elements noted in Le Corbusier’s work in India.

The defining architectural element is the parabolic vaulted ceiling—a self-supporting structure crafted from recycled bricks. It incorporates a 3.5m by 2.5m elliptical retractable skylight, unglazed and angled 20 degrees southward, inviting the gaze to the heavens above.

Commissioned by Basil Borun, an astronomer and engineer, the design by Peter Stutchbury sought to fulfill Borun’s desire to reach for the stars from the comfort of his living room. The placement of the skylight, at the highest point of the unusual soaring roof which peaks at 7.5m, was determined through trial and error. The process involved using cut-outs of skylight prototypes held against the sky until Borun’s requirements for viewing his favorite constellations were met. Designed with utmost consideration for accessibility, the house features a layout that allows Borun to navigate seamlessly from his car throughout his home with minimal effort, thanks to a meticulously planned series of wide hallways and sliding doors.

The structure’s materials were also chosen with sustainability in mind; the bricks used were salvaged from a demolished apartment building in western Sydney. While the scale of the room is domestic, its spaciousness and vaulted design lend it a cathedral-like air that is both welcoming and awe-inspiring.

Peter Stutchbury, the project’s architect, remarked on the unique focus of the house on the nocturnal experience—something rarely prioritized to such an extent in residential design. Sustainability features are prominently incorporated, including photovoltaic panels, extensive battery storage, dual electric vehicle charging stations, and a substantial rainwater tank, among others. These elements ensure that the house is not only a comfortable and inspiring living space but also a benchmark for future architectural endeavors.

Project Gallery
Project Location

Address: 6 Jubilee Ave, Blackheath, New South Wales, Australia

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