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Leaf House, Sydney. Undercurrent architects_13

Leaf House, Sydney Australia

Year: 2007 – 2009

Leaf House is for living inside, while Out-in-Nature – and celebrates the wild Australian bush. The house engages a breathtaking site with a building of equal character, intensity and irregularity.

The building is sited in-the-round and constantly changes shape in response to its surroundings. It’s shaped by the environment, drawing on natural forms to provide allegorical connections between building and landscape, and between in and outside.

The house consists of a series of interleaved roofs over a platform and landscape terrace. Living spaces are located on the open plan terrace, while private spaces are built below the terrace into the hill. The design is diffuse, irregular and aims for minimal shelter.

Viewed from above, the house is defined by its roof – a fifth facade seen in relation to tree canopies and ocean currents. On approach, the building is see-through and blends the interior with background greenery. From inside, it’s perforated and porous; filtering sunlight and providing keyhole views to trees. Undulating glass walls bend and stretch the interior, modulating and shaping light.

The building’s structural system conveys a narrative in addition to carrying the roof loads. This narrative begins with a tree – a central column that shoots from the earth and branches outwards. The tree flattens and spreads, gradually coursing like lateral roots. The roots interweave and spin steadily into a diffuse, cloudy form. Finally the cloud condenses, falling back to earth as rain… These metaphorical transformations unleash the structure from passive load transfer, elevating it to a sculptural element responsive to the natural environment around it.

Leaf House incorporates environmental design and the use of site-sourced materials, producing a building that engages occupants and the environment.


Leaf House – Sydney Studio from Babekuhl on Vimeo.

Project Team:

Undercurrent Architects : Didier Ryan, German Perez Tavio, Claudia Youl

Jack Hodgson Engineers; Elliotwood Llp

Photography: Hugh Rutherford







On-site construction

Stop motion sequence


Leaf house by Malou Dunkley

Leaf house by Marc Gerritsen