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Well-Rounded

Well-Rounded

For A One-Of-A-Kind Home, It’s Hard To Beat Circular Architecture

Circular homes make a striking statement.

These high-design residences are often one-of-a-kind, with interiors as novel as their curving facades. “When you’re buying luxury, you don’t want it to be a cookie-cutter home,” says Michael Pallier, the managing director of Sydney Sotheby’s International Realty. “You want something unique. A distinctive home means something to a buyer.”

Round residences certainly qualify. They are also somewhat rare, according to Pallier, giving them a rarified vibe. He is currently representing the Oculus, an “interstellar” Sydney, Australia, home that melds an expansive circular entertaining area with a more traditionally shaped wing that encompasses the kitchen and bedrooms. The six-bedroom, five-bathroom home was by architect Frank Fox in 1961. The circular entertaining area is at the center of Fox’s design.

On the ground level, a retractable curved window wraps around the main living space, allowing for views of the gardens and direct access to the patio and pool. Upstairs, there’s another large reception room that leads onto the upper balcony, which is shaded by a curving cantilevered steel canopy. Timber blades surround much of the upper floor to help regulate the temperature indoors.

Situated on a quarter-acre lot, the home also features a screening room, gym, two kitchens, room for six cars, and state-of-the-art home technology. It is currently on the market for A$15 million. The property was purchased by the current owners about 11 years ago for just under A$7 million, Pallier says. They spent another A$7 million or so on updating the home, while keeping the original character intact.

WZGS2Q

A$15 million

Property ID: WZGS2Q | sothebysrealty.com

Sydney Sotheby’s International Realty

Go to property

“They are very expensive to build,” he says. Because of the curving walls, many of the structural elements have to be handmade, Pallier explains. And materials like windows, as well as their frames, have to be special-ordered to align with the shape of the home.

Cabinetry and countertops need to be custom-made as well, and the general lack of right angles can make furniture an awkward fit, the agent notes. It also has to be specially sourced or custom-made. The Australia-based architecture firm Tzannes Associates helmed the redesign, working with landscape architect William Dangar and Arent & Pyke Interior Designs. After the renovation, it was recognized with a Commendation in Residential Architecture Houses at the NSW Australian Institute of Architecture Awards.

“Every detail has been restored and renewed,” Pallier explains. That includes replacing the flooring, walls and ceilings, installing a new, partly domed zinc roof, redesigning the grounds, and adding an elevator. Curve-friendly furniture was curated to bring into the space, and hanging rails were installed across walls to make sure art could be displayed. That trick was also used at Round House-Leech Art Studio in Sarasota, Fla. In fact, the original hanging rails are still there, according to Martie Lieberman, the Premier Sotheby’s agent who is representing the property.

“But hanging art is not as much of a problem as you might think,” she adds. “The walls have enough of a gentle curve.”

The two-bedroom, two-bathroom house was designed in 1960 for American painters Dorothy and Hilton Leech, who used it as an arts center and school. It sits on a half-acre property that combines three lots and is currently listed at US$895,000.

The light flows through in Oculus, a round house in Sydney
The light flows through in Oculus, a round house in Sydney

Clerestory windows encircle the residence just below the roofline, bringing sunlight into the home and giving those inside a peek at the trees in the garden, Lieberman explains. In addition, floor-to-ceiling windows frame the home’s glass doors, letting in even more light.

The living and dining areas, plus a custom built-in kitchen, art gallery, and the master suite, are on the ground floor. The upper level is a loft space that serves as a second bedroom, and has an additional bathroom and a skylight.

“As cool as the photos make it look, it’s cooler once you get here,” the agent says. It was updated by Sarasota-based architect Tatiana White around 2008, she adds. But Jack West and Elizabeth Boylston Waters were behind the original design.

They were members of the Sarasota School of Architecture. The style plays with the landscape and is known for its honesty in materials and clarity of concept, the agent explains. Its roots are in the Mid-Century Modern movement.

Many round homes are from that time period, says Eckart Noack, a Sausalito, Calif.-based agent with Golden Gate Sotheby’s. Although also rare in California, he has represented two such properties, both from that era.

“They are examples of Mid-Century architecture to the extreme,” he says. The style’s futuristic look and the form-meets-function sensibilities are certainly on display at the Round House on Wolfback Ridge in Sausalito. The three-bedroom, two-bathroom home was designed by renowned Bay Area architect Mario Corbett in 1954.

Its floor-to-ceiling curved windows frame views of nine counties, the San Francisco Bay, and the city skyline. Inside, the sloping walls are clad in wood, as are the floors and custom cabinetry. Noack represented the buyers when they purchased the property in 2016 for US$2.7 million. “The architecture and the location made it a really attractive property,” he explains. “The buyers were really committed to maintaining the aesthetic.”

Buying a round house was not the couple’s goal when they visited, Noack points out. “They went to see it at an open house and realized how awesome it was,” he says. “They had to have it.”

Oculus in Sydney has a very modern feel and a truly unique shape
Oculus in Sydney has a very modern feel and a truly unique shape

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