A multisensory sanctuary – Federal House stretches the concept of indoors and outdoors

The Federal House, designed by Edition Office, appears like a mystical mirage amidst the rugged landscape of the Australian hinterland. Behind the atramentous façade of the building, a true oasis emerges – a sanctuary that seamlessly combines outdoor and indoor spaces.

An image of the exterior of Federal House, designed by Edition Office.
The Federal House by Edition Office is located in New South Wales, Australia.

  • Design: Edition Office
  • Location: Federal, New South Wales, Australia
  • Completed: 2020
  • Gross area: 424 m2
  • Lead architects: Kim Bridgland and Aaron Roberts

THE FEDERAL HOUSE, located in New South Wales, Australia, stands firmly connected to its surroundings. Completed in 2020, the eye-catching building appears as a shadow against the landscape opening up to the vast Australian hinterland view – on the one hand as a foreign element, and on the other hand, providing shelter for experiencing the environment to the fullest.

Drawing from the ideologies of Juhani Pallasmaa and Peter Zumthor, architects Kim Bridgland and Aaron Roberts created a stunning example of sensuous materiality. Experientialism and a multisensory approach were keywords that guided the Federal House design project from the beginning.

An image of the exterior of the Federal House, by Edition Office.
Brutalist, black in-situ concrete and the deep-black façade made from wooden battens create an extraordinary shadow-like contrast to the surrounding landscape.
An image of the exterior of the Federal House by Edition Office.
“Federal House is a home that stands as an outsider element within its landscape, establishing a relationship of connected departure. The interior of the home becomes an island of texture and shadows from which to witness and observe the natural surroundings,” describe the architects.
An image of Federal House, designed by Edition Office.
A skillfully designed interplay of shadow, light, and tactility offers a multisensory experience unlike no other. Grand panes of louvre windows throughout the building provide a natural airflow.
An image from inside the Federal House, designed by Edition Office.
The large verandah connects the inside and outside space, doubling as an intimate buffer between the two worlds.

The sharp, geometric shape of the low-rise building blends in with its surroundings surprisingly well – the façade, crafted from black wooden battens, gives the house a unique, tactile sense of materiality that bridges the gap between organic and artificial. The natural light filtered through the slats brings captivating movement to the interior as the lights and shadows sweep across the space at the pace of the sun.

The serene heart of the home – the cloister fern garden – both binds the rooms together in a charming way and adds a feeling of breathtaking continuity to the space.

A reference to the Colonial Homestead imagery, the large verandah stretches the sheltered interiors outwards, connecting them to their surroundings while acting as a softening, intimate buffer between the inside and outdoor areas. Panes of louvre windows provide natural ventilation, allowing the space to maintain a pleasant temperature without artificial air conditioning.

An image of Federal House's dining area, featuring HAY's Result dining chairs around a wooden table, as part of the dining room decor.
The dining area and living room blend harmoniously into one grand lounge area. HAY's Result dining chair was designed by Wim Rietveld and Friso Kramer.
An image of the living room decor of Federal House, designed by Edition office.
Simultaneously minimalistic and abundant, Federal House carries both calming and stimulating qualities.
An image of the interior of Federal House, designed by Edition Office.
Warm, natural tones of wood set a wholesome, appeasing mood.
An image of the living room at Federal House, designed by Edition Office.
Nature and the surrounding landscape stay continuously present throughout the building. The Tiki sofa is by Swedish brand Fogia.

Warm-toned wooden floors, walls, and ceilings of the moderately sized rooms contrast with the dramatic black tint of the façade and underscore the sheltered, hideaway feel of the structure – as do the giant ferns planted in an enclosed atrium in the middle of the building.

The serene cloister garden, which serves as the heart of the home, both binds the rooms together in a charming way and brings a feeling of breathtaking continuity to the space: the gaze is allowed to wander freely through the ferns from one room to another and ever further into the surrounding landscape.

An image inside the Federal House, of living room decor.
A sunken fern garden further emphasizes the feeling of a sheltered sanctuary.
An image of the interior of Federal House, designed by Edition Office: a sunken fern garden.
The black exterior creates a powerful contrast to the green ferns, connecting natural and unnatural in an exquisite way.
An image of the interior of Federal House, designed by Edition Office: the pool area.
Beneath the living area lies an astounding, austere pool made from black concrete.
With a view over the surrounding landscape, the cavernous space evokes images of a natural swimming hole.

However, the most breathtaking surprise of the desert oasis lies beneath the residential floor, which houses an underground swimming pool. The unique surfaces crafted from deep-black pigmented concrete, a still body of water, and a stripped-down, cavernous space are more reminiscent of a natural spring than a man-made pool, providing a grounding sensory experience – a genuine escape from everyday life.

Get inspired by Federal House

Reverse table lamp
Outline sofa
Paimen wool shaggy rug
Insert side table
Hydro vase
Bug lounge chair
Slit wood table
Leaf floor lamp

See also:

Follow @editionoffice on Instagram >
Design Stories: Beneath the concrete skin of Hawthorn House beats a warm heart full of life

Text: Mira Ahola Images: Ben Hosking

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