Discovering this unlikely rural location within a stone’s throw of the urban jungle was a real coup for owners Sandra and Mike six years ago. They moved into the original ’60s house armed with the long-term plan of rebuilding an expansive home for their family, including five kids.
“The previous house had been built with low-cost materials and was terribly inefficient to run,” says Sandra. “However, it had been designed by an architect and featured three walls of glass that invited the stunning landscape to merge with the interior.” This experience of living in tremendously light and airy spaces made the couple aware of the significant role their natural surrounds would have to play in the design of their new home. Listening to their needs for space and objectives for integrating the environment, Technē director Justin Northrop masterfully delivered a spacious split-level arrangement offering versatile living spaces and an almost garden-like experience inside by weaving exterior products through the interior. “With such a stunning outlook, it was important to create a dialogue between the home and landscape, so both could flourish,” says Justin.
2. Cool room
4. Mud room
10. Rumpus room
11. Guest room
13. Living area
14. Dining area
16. Butler’s pantry
22. Walk-in robe
23. Master bedroom
24. Parents’ retreat
When you regularly host a weekend lunch for 16 people or more, it’s no surprise that space is high on the priority list, and for this family of seven, plus their extended family, it was right up at the top. “Not only were our older children keen for their own retreats, we also desired a huge space where we could all come together,” says Sandra. This sense of unity was answered by a dramatic central atrium creating the spine of the house and serving as a transitional zone between the four pavilions and the two-level arrangement. Despite the impressive scale, each pavilion has been specifically sited and angled to echo the external planes and fuse with the landscape. “We envisioned a home that would sit comfortably within its environment and embrace a harmonious palette,” says Justin.
+ “A clean and natural palette. We wanted to draw attention to the beautiful view, which set the tone for the interior spaces.”
+ “Compelling spaces for teenagers to encourage them to use their rooms and enjoy spending time in the house.”
+ “A high level of sustainability. When building a new house from scratch, we believe owners have a certain accountability when it comes to environmental issues.”
The connection between the external and internal spaces happens as soon as you enter the dramatic hall, with the exterior bluestone pavers continuing inside and the custom blackbutt timber shiplap cladding and standing seam metal cladding wrapping down one of the predominant internal walls. “Exploration of the connectivity between the home and its landscape, as well as the interior and exterior spaces, informed much of our design response,” says Technē’s interior designer Kate Archibald. This materials palette, comprising traditionally exterior finishes, strives to blur the boundaries between inside and out and achieves a sense of continuity between the interior and exterior spaces.
Contrasting with the dark and structured atrium, the adjacent living spaces are soft, gentle and filled with sunlight. “Sandra and Mike wanted clean, highly functional, yet beautiful living spaces that wouldn’t distract from the stunningly framed landscapes,” says Kate. “In response, we took a cue from the views across the treetops and stuck to a soft, minimal colour palette to capture the natural beauty of the home’s surrounds.” Light oak flooring and joinery by George Fethers sets a calm base for touches of luxe velvet in rich tones, while grey tundra marble benchtops within the joinery add texture and form, providing tranquil spaces to observe the scenery.
“We were very much aligned with the architect and interior designer throughout the project,” says Sandra, who discovered them through recommendations and felt that the family’s needs were listened to and considered intently. Justin adds, “Sandra and Mike were aware of the uniqueness of this site and knew that a carefully considered design response was required to work with the site’s attributes and topography.” Despite the site’s challenges, it offered plenty of space to work with, so obtaining planning permission for the compliant design was straightforward.
lessons learnt “Working with an architect goes both ways. While we wanted an architect who respected our needs, it was important we weren’t too constraining in our objectives, and that we took advantage of their know edge and experience. Designing bui dings is what they do best, so you should make the most of their skil s and expertise.”
SANDRA & MIKE, HOMEOWNERS
One non-typical process that the architects and builder, Built By Guild, undertook was an airtightness test at lock-up stage to ensure the house was sealed. “It achieved an airtightness rating of 5 ACH (air changes/hour), five levels better than the UK’s minimum standard of 10,” says Justin. “Australia has no such building compliance requirements, so we were pretty pleased with that.” The energy-efficient features continue with a high-performance passive design that includes sun shades to block summer sun and admit winter heat, as well as operable windows that have been placed to achieve natural cross ventilation. However, the final stroke of design genius has to be the internal garden spaces that are woven between the pavilions, enabling a beautifully stabilised micro-climate through the house, and providing Sandra and Mike with a further connection to their natural surroundings.
Find out more about Technē at techne.com.au . Get in touch with the builder at builtbyguild.com.au . Who lives here: Busy parents Sandra and Mike, who both work full-time, and their five children, including two teenagers.
Style of home: A contemporary new build with six bedrooms in a tranquil setting not far from Melbourne’s CBD. Featuring four sculptural pavilions that nestle into the sloping site, the home’s interior is connected to the varying exterior levels thanks to a split-level arrangement, while a dramatic atrium in the centre of the house serves as a transition between the two floors and living areas.
Design and documentation took one year, and the build took another year.
EXTERIOR IN BLACKBUTT WITH CUTEK GREY MIST FINISH, BOWENS, BOWENS.COM.AU. ‘STAMP’ CONSOLE TABLE (IN ATRIUM),GRAZIA & CO., GRAZIAANDCO.COM.AU. LIGNAPAL KITCHEN JOINERY, GEORGE FETHERS & CO., GFETHERS.COM.AU. LIGNE ROSET ‘ITISY’ TABLE (BEHIND BEN BEN SOFA) AND LIGNE ROSET ‘TOGO’ SETTEE (IN PARENT’S RETREAT), DOMO FURNITURE, DOMO.COM.AU.ARFLEX ‘JULES’ ARMCHAIR IN GOLD, POLIFORM, POLIFORMAUSTRALIA.COM.AU. RUG, CADRYS, CADRYS.COM.AU. ARTWORK (ABOVE ARMCHAIR) BYADAM PYETT, SOPHIE GANNON GALLERY, SOPHIEGANNONGALLERY.COM.AU. BUSH MEDICINE LEAVES ARTWORK BY GLORIA PETYARRE. ‘LEO’ BEDSIDE TABLE, GRAZIA & CO., GRAZIAANDCO.COM.AU. WALLTILES, SIGNORINO TILE GALLERY, SIGNORINO.COM.AU. CLEARWATER‘FORMOSO’ FREESTANDING BATH, REECE, REECE.COM.AU ■