• Ground floor plan and landscape concept for the Bowes house.

9 Riverview Road, Clareville, NSW, 1965 (unbuilt)

Drawings of this scheme were never built because the Bowes family disagreed with Snelling’s determination to set their house further back from the water’s edge than the neighbouring Arthur F. Little house.

From presentation plans and an aerial sketch, the Bowes house seemed similar to the 'islander-style' Little and Kelly 2 houses. It would have been a substantial residence of face brick on a downward sloping site, with a low roof of cedar shakes spreading to wide eaves on the east and west sides and ascending to a tapered, peaked section incorporating skylighting for the central living zone.

The entrance, facing east to the driveway, would have been concealed from the visitors car park by two organically shaped promontories of landscaping. After walking around these, visitors would see the front door beyond a rectangular rock garden and fishpond. Family members would have driven past the gardens and front door to a three-car garage incorporating a strip of garden along its back wall beside the informal entry door. In plan, the main entrance opened to a small, square lobby. Beyond this were two central living zones, one large and open, the other intimate and enclosed, and a dining area with an elliptical table.

The tiled floor would have rugs defining the two seating zones and dining area, with the tiles continuing out to a wide balcony running the full width of the house on its west (harbour-facing) façade. Both the indoor and outdoor dining areas were adjacent to a large rectangular kitchen with a central island unit. Two double bedroom suites were proposed for the northwest corner of the ground floor, and two twin daybed suites would have been located in the southeast corner.

All four sleeping zones could have been inhabited by two people, and all would have included built-in desks, wardrobes and ensuites. Snelling’s system for the daybeds involved placing single beds in an L-shaped format off a square corner storage unit. At night, the two beds could be rolled on castors to a central position in the room and locked together as a double bed or left in position as twin single beds.

Off the internal entry and balcony dining area, two flights of stairs would have fallen to the lower ground level. On the east side of the internal stairs, a spectacular waterfall would have extended the water garden beside the front door to a new, organically shaped pond on the lower ground floor. This was a classic Snelling indoor-outdoor landscape technique. On the lower ground floor, a large, open, entertaining space would have incorporated a billiards table, a large round-ended cocktail bar and lounge chairs with sliding doors opening to the pool deck. On the south boundary, a fifth bedroom suite and a sauna would have been provided. In the south-east corner, an unidentified room (perhaps intended as back-of-house at parties) was planned, and on the north side, a lavatory and tool room (the latter accessible from the garden) were shown. A second set of external stairs would have led down from the pool deck to a boathouse and long jetty at the water’s edge.

Like all Snelling’s houses on sloping sites, the Bowes residence comprised descending floor levels to hug the gradient of the land. The scale of the water-facing (west) façade was diminished by inserting a thick horizontal 'baseline' of pale ochre rendered masonry, serving also as a low wall for the pool deck. When seen from the water, the horizontal lines of the dark-toned house would appear to be compressed between the light-toned base and the heavy roof above.

Sources

—Bowes, Warwick. Personal communications, 12 April 2003.

—Pemberton, Gary J. 1984. Douglas B. Snelling: A Monograph of His Works (B. Arch dissertation). Sydney: New South Wales Institute of Technology.

—Sydney: SLNSW MLMSS 8801, architectural drawings.