I know what he means. The new addition to the schoolmasters house, after many months of planning, measuring – has resulted in this beautiful space. The windows wrap around you on all sides. The old glass in the salvaged windows is like a filter from Instagram – somehow transporting the landscape back to the past. Studying architecture, I remember a lecture about how the human race still carries a hunter/prey mechanism. It is deeply satisfying for us to be in a cave looking out down to the plains. It’s why people gravitate to the perimeter seats in a restaurant- leaving the centre ones till last.
The house needs warmth during the cold sunny winter days when the wind’s up. A room to catch the light. A sunroom. Stakes hammered in the ground; marking the dimensions -fluoro sprays of colour recklessly onto the house. The gamble of proportions- privacy vs view. How to blend it into the look of the old schoolmasters’ house, the feel of the village.
The plans approved by council, the brick base built; Gunter,the builder, comes to town. A couple of months staying and working in the house. Of East German background; he worked the uranium mines, then as a travelling journeyman builder before coming to Australia. He has built & renovated the houses of many artistic people; valued for his deep understanding of proportion and detail. Trips to the old schoolmasters’ house, living together for a few days throw up an intimacy with each others routines. Gunter’s duck fat on toast for breakfast, his glass of port at lunch. We watch the kangaroos from the kitchen window together.
Back in Sydney, long conversations with Gunter on the phone, – updates on the progress mixed in with gossip from the village pub. The room is starting to take shape. Robert, a fifth generation local is an amazing help. One time I ask Gunter if he likes it in the country- ‘ Oh, I like wherever I am” he says.
The final trip up; walking out to the sunroom through the new French window doors- something magic has happened. From the dirt patch on the ground – a room has been created. A dreamy room, one you can spend all day in. Somehow you are projected out into the landscape, part of it. The stern Victorian division between interior and exterior has been broken down.