Architecture Tour: Heide II – A gallery to be lived in

This afternoon, I participated in the architecture tour at Heide Museum of Modern Art. At the museum, there are three exhibition spaces named Heide I, Heide II and Heide III. Today’s tour focused on Heide II, which used to be the second home of John and Sunday Reed, the art patrons who opened the museum.

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Reeds commissioned two young architects, McGlashan and Everist in 1963. Their request was a house that was a “gallery to be lived in”. Today I learnt about how two architects responded to Reeds.

  1. Defining space

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What is particularly unique about this house is that there is only one door in the whole building, and that is a door for the toilet. Openings of spaces are defined by L shaped edges of internal walls but not by the presence of doors. Furthermore, thresholds of some spaces such as conversation pit and kitchen area are emphasised by the change of floor level or ceiling height. This creates one house with the flow of air and a cohesive relationship between individual spaces with different functionality.

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2.  Materials

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The unity of the building as one space is highlighted by the selection of materials. The consistent application of timber, tiles and limestone throughout the house brings out the beauty of the materiality and the simplicity. The organic colour scheme of materials further enhances the building’s relationship with the surrounding environment, as if the colourful, verdant vegetation in the courtyards become ever-changing decorative elements of the house.

3. Details

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Another interesting fact is that there is no skirting board or cornice. This means the edges where walls meet floors and ceilings must be precisely cut and placed. The efforts that builders put in constructing this house can be felt in details.

4. Light and shadow

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Most of the windows of the house are facing North for the purpose of taking natural light. Through windows, multiple courtyards on the North side of the house can be seen and appreciated. The movement of sun gives the interior space different personalities over a period of time – the sunlight illuminates limestone and tiles vividly.

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It was the first time I visited Heide, and I thoroughly enjoyed the architecture of Heide II, as well as art exhibitions including works by Jenny Watson. I’d like to thank Marg, the tour guide for letting me know the beauty of the architectural design of Heide II.

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