• Floor and site plan for the Hauslaib house (unbuilt).

28 Heights Crescent, Harbour Heights, NSW, 1949 (unbuilt)

One of Snelling’s first house designs, this scheme was first published in California’s Arts and Architecture magazine, April 1949, but was probably not built. The article (perhaps written by Snelling, as was common for architectural publicity at the time), said:

This house is in direct participation with its site, with the living area following the grade down five steps from the sleeping area. This inter-relationship makes for the extension of space feeling and intimate association with its environment. With the panoramic view of wooded ground and harbour inlets to the north east, it was possible to face the main glass areas in this direction to take advantage of the sun for light and warmth. Roof overhangs control penetration of sun’s rays. The early morning sun streams into bedrooms; noon sun in winter gets well across all rooms; while the hot noon summer sun does not get in anywhere; the uncomfortable parallel rays of the west sun are prevented from entering entirely by the solid masonry [stone] wall.

Snelling’s dramatic gesture was to wrap the north, north-west, and south-west sides of this multi-roofed, two-bedroom house with a sandstone retaining wall defining the outside of the triangular carport, enclosing a large, stone-flagged terrace alongside the kitchen and living-dining zone, and incorporating the living area’s monumental fireplace and chimney. The projecting wing containing the living-dining area was almost entirely glazed to take advantage of views over woodlands to the harbour inlets of Middle Cove.

As a further device for sun manipulation, he incorporated clerestory windows along the southeast and southwest walls of the bedroom wing. Pergolas were installed along the northeast sundeck off the bedroom wing and along the southwest side toward the main entrance. Exterior wall materials were proposed to be common brick, with wood trims painted cream and stone.

Roofing was to be formed with felt and asphalt, bonded with a top layer of crushed crystalline limestone. Because this finish was white, it would reflect the sun’s rays and reduce internal temperatures by an estimated 15 percent. Internally, the house was to include large areas of wood (almost certainly redwood) with cabinets custom-made for all rooms.

A 1950 profile article on Snelling in People includes a perspective sketch of this house and a photograph of Snelling holding the model. This article noted that Snelling’s design had been finally approved by Willoughby council with minor amendments. The People writer continued to explain Snelling’s concept:

The house is one of the few ever designed in this country with regard to its relationship to summer and winter sunshine, view, general climatic conditions, placing of interior furniture and the function of special building materials. Construction is of brick, wood, glass and natural stone. ‘It is a house for a client who is not afraid to live in the 20th century. It is no experiment,’ Snelling says. The house is designed from the inside out, so that all furnishings could be a primary consideration in the final design. ‘It lives with its climate,’ Snelling adds, ‘and is designed to suit the needs of the occupants rather than to present to the street a conventional appearance. It does not present the ludicrous picture of a streamlined 1950s automobile parked outside a pseudo picket-fenced Cape Cod cottage.

Willoughby Library records reveal that the house was never built, and that Snelling’s client, Russell Hauslaib, sold the property in 1950.

Sources

—Arts and Architecture. 1949. ‘House for urban development in Sydney, Australia’, April, pp. 36, 60.

—People. 1950. ‘A young man with ideas’, 10 May, pp. 25–27.

—Sydney: SLNSW PICMAN Archive, PXD 874, architectural drawings by Peter MacCallum.