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A Country House With A Copper Skin


There is a wealth of truly remarkable architecture happening in Australia right now, but we always feel a particular frisson of excitement when a building by John Wardle Architects slides across our desks – and the Boneo House is no exception!

The owners of this home shared the same woozy jolt of exhilaration during the development of the property– opting to move in while the site was still under construction! Diego Bekinschtein, Senior Associate at John Wardle Architects, speaks with us about site specificity, and reimagining a pre-existing home through the addition of a spectacular copper-clad wing. Have a (longing) gander at this home, before the announcement of the Victorian Architecture Awards in which it is shortlisted, later this evening!

29th June, 2018

The Boneo House by John Wardle Architects on the Mornington Peninsula. Photo – Sharyn Cairns.

Comprising new living spaces and a master bedroom, this new addition completely reimagined the existing house. Photo – Sharyn Cairns.

Local timber has been used to line the interior, with varying textures across floors, walls and joinery. Photo – Sharyn Cairns.

An open, honest relationship between the home owners and architects had a significant positive impact on this project. Photo – Sharyn Cairns.

There is no standard template for designing a house. Our design approach draws together many threads – context, site, brief, climate – to tell a compelling story to our clients about inhabitation and place.’ Photo – Sharyn Cairns.

The home-owners opted to live in the house during construction! Photo – Sharyn Cairns.

The newly added master bedroom (imagine waking up to that view everyday!). Photo – Sharyn Cairns.

‘A skin of copper on the sides of the house is taut and crisply defining,’ says Diego. Photo – Sharyn Cairns.

Photography – Sharyn Cairns.

Lucy Feagins
Friday 29th June 2018

The work of John Wardle Architects will be familiar to TDF readers (and anyone with a passing interest in architecture and design!) for their award winning education, residential and commercial projects. Senior Associate Diego Bekinschtein describes how this multi-disciplinary approach encourages ‘the cross fertilisation of ideas’ and draws on the skills of the team of 70, including master planners, urban designers, architects and interior designers.

Diego explains the architectural firm’s method as pursuing adventurous design that is also ‘always grounded in the way that people inhabit the space’ – and this is evident in the case of the Boneo house. For the architect ‘there is no standard template for designing a house.’ The clients came to John Wardle Architects with a desire to convert the pre-existing building on their property into a more family friendly home. Diego describes how ‘the splitting of the house allowed for multi-generational use to function together and apart.’

This ‘splitting’ was achieved through the insertion of a new wing, clad in a copper skin, which is ‘taut and crisply defining’ (what a delicious description). The house both nestles cosily into the Mornington landscape, and sits proudly across the sloping property – observing the moody waters of Bass Strait and Port Philip Bay. The copper wrap is ‘sliced open’ to frame the views, and orient the home in the environment.

The interiors are equally as striking, where local timber creates a wrap of varying textures across floor, walls and joinery. Diego views the interiors as ‘a cabinet itself’ – a space for ‘refuge and prospect.’

The success of this building can be credited to the relationships between client, architects and builders, who worked together fairly intensively, to produce a home that now has a long-lasting future for the family. The family’s enthusiasm for their new house was so robust that they ended up moving in before the project was completed! A potentially tricky arrangement, made possible with clever sectioning of the site to protect (everyone) from dust and noise. With unfolding views like that, a little building mess wouldn’t be able to deter us either.

‘There is no standard template for designing a house.’ – Diego Bekinschtein.

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