Leaf House by Undercurrent Architects



London studio Undercurrent Architects have completed a pavilion in Sydney, Australia, with a roof that resembles fallen leaves.

Called Leaf House, the project is located in the grounds of a private residence.

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Overlapping plates form the roof, supported by a twisting tubular steel structure that resembles branches.

The resulting space is enclosed by moulded glass panels.

An enclosed space in the sandstone base below the pavilion offers greater privacy.

Photographs are by Hugh Rutherford.

Here's some text from Undercurrent Architects:



Leaf House is a pavilion for a private residence in the north of Sydney, sited in a dramatic coastal setting.

The building engages it surroundings and forms part of the landscape: its roof blending into the vegetation; its base shaping the terrain.

The design is characterised by oversailing roof shells that resemble fallen leaves, held loosely together by a structure of twisted steel beams that bring dynamic forces inside.

The interior is enclosed with a thin veil of moulded glass that activates views and reflections. Private rooms are tucked below into a sandstone podium fused to the terrain.

The building’s striking and unusual forms embody the wild character of the landscape, provoking multiple experiences and sensations.

Undercurrent Architects undertook design and building roles, as methods were improvised to achieve high technical complexity within cost constraints.

Architects and Project manager: Undercurrent Architects

Project team:
Didier Ryan
German Perez Tavio

Jack Hodgson
Elliotwood LLP

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Posted on Saturday January 2nd 2010 at 12:33 pm by Ruth Hynes. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • This is a beautiful concept and execution. My ideal abode!

  • playful design !!

  • "a structure that resembles fallen leaves" but from above, a bunch of old garage roofs! Looks like a wonderful place to chill, work and party but what a strangely incongruous choice of roofing material……did the money run out?

    • TrinaSalva

      It could have been intended to represent/”imitate” the ridges on the leaves, though.

  • Simona

    beautiful project. the light quality is quite magical. it almost dances in the armchair interior photo and warps in the night view. i normally dont like glass enclosed spaces as they are so bland and dont add anything to the space. this is totally different

  • Must have been incredibly expensive.

  • Maybe Dalí had dreamed of it!
    HAPPY NEW YEAR dezeen.ers!

  • Very poetic, BRAVO!

    Francois Beydoun

  • tanya telford – T

    i like this, looks like when your in there it might feel like your sitting under tree foliage due to the light through the structure, but if im honest i would like it even more if the pavilion also had some (even small) architectural association (aesthetic) with the house, (and best wishes to all for 2010, & thank you to Dezeen),

  • tim

    i love to see conceptual design relating structures to their landscape and this has been a successful execution in doing so

  • Simona

    i found an interesting film on this projet which gives alot of information behind the process http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7xQ3W8n-bc

  • Hannes

    unfortunaly i can’t argee.
    the leaves are beutiful. the material reminds me in fact of autumn foliage. BUT the pipes the leveas are lieing on have nothing to do with bio-morphed “branches”. They seem to be arbitrary. The barcing / subcarrier appeare helpless. Intelegent design is something different.
    On the better pictures the glass looks like a rainbow bubles. In the worset ones it just breaks the balance of the picture they tried to archive.
    In my eyes undercurrent architects took a lot of money, planing time and modern techniques to buid something that’s miles away form the beuatiful idea standing at the start.

  • Tyler


  • yoda

    would love it so much more if the pipe branches weren’t there…

  • Amelia Mulberry

    Great work, i love the foliage roof. i think theres more to the pipes than the simplictic tree metaphor.. perhaps closer to tree roots? as the strucutre seems to be woven and interdependent rather than heirarhical like a tree and its branches. i also see they have an overlap with the oceanic backdrop, as tentacles / tendrils, taking it beyond literal association with the background greenry and creating meanings beyond trees. in fact the roof also can be seen in this oceanic sence, like seashells or floating jellyfish rahter than foliage. powerful work

  • ntn

    EMBT with roof!!!

  • Smith

    Truly, truly bad. Architecture (like the rest of us) should respect nature, not produce a ‘Frankenstein’ facsimile of it.

  • Bozo

    I find this way to heavy and brutal. I would also have liked to have seen a differentiation between inside floor and outside. If not that then it should have been more permeable with openable panels.
    Cool to see something this outthere built in Sydney nonetheless. The architects must have some friends or relatives up there in them gold filled hills.

  • Emmanuel

    eeeew, they did not abstract it far enough! looks like a kinder-garden project gone wrong!

  • dumb

    dumb, could have done much more with that kinda money.

  • interesting structure – looking forward to seeing more from this group of architects.

  • Len Skäp

    From another blog on archdaily commenting on cost:

    – The steel work was made in boat building factory, more cost effect than site work or using a normal building company. Industrial boat building uses broader tolerances, so the structure was rapid to make, albeit with a rougher, hand made quality rather than sharp precision normally associated with building steel. Many techniques were to limit costs. For instance all stone was quarried from the excavation; roll copper (raw material price) was corrugated using an old water tank rolling machine; glass was formed from 1 mould; roof panels from 2 segements(with variable edge details); site work limited to rapid assembly of big parts; the contractal side was strickly controlled so that most tasks could be managed by a small site team (see the credits on the video for the few people involved)

    … the project was not built with traditional methods and while appearing expensive, cost less than mid level buildings of equivalent size in Sydney

  • Paul

    the proportions are off.
    Money or not, this structure looks cheap.
    Could be a cafe at an amusement park, or a gift shop at a zoo.

  • Jason

    I think putting up a transparent barrier between interior and exterior distances man and nature :(

  • Juliette

    I really admire this project, bold, wild & vibrant… breathtaking!

  • J Zhou

    great project, many different qualities both in and outside

  • Amazing project. I like it!

  • Januaries

    It is pretty good project.

  • Matthew

    The concept is a valid one to take head on, but the execution of the this project fell short. The tenticales inside that support the structure look haphazard. Also, how many leaves that fall to the ground do you know all sag down toward the ground? I just beleive this could have been developed alot further. It’s good to see you out their taking design chances and moving past traditionalizm.

  • it looks like the atmosphere inside doesn’t feels good…..but i like its playful design of this structure!fabulous!nice vision!!!
    the roof seems incredible…it looks like a scattered leaves…the design is very nice..but getting inside becomes dull..i think it would be better if you provide a natural lighting and ventilation…the pipes stands for the trunk of the tree but it does not look like that rather its more like roots…i think having a single bottom pipe or a single foundation will beautify the structure and presents more comparable with a trunk…the colors used seems so pleasant…and the materials used were just fine…i would rather suggest to show us the inside plan more detailed one……:)