The self-designed home of architect Nathan Porter (of Porter Architects) is located on the fringe of Ballarat, in a tight building envelope backing onto the Woowookarung Regional Park. A planning overlay to protect the local koala residents and native vegetation provided some design limitations, but also helped to inform the overall identity of the building.
The home is divided into four areas, of a central transitional entry zone, public living zone, private sleeping and amenity area, and a large private courtyard. Nathan explains that the house is designed to ‘interact with its environment at different times of the year and different times of the day’. The views out across the regional park provide rolling updates of changing weather patterns, and in summer the raised platform and open areas offer natural ventilation. Nathan highlights ‘at night the bedrooms look out to the city lights’ and in the morning welcome ‘morning light through the eucalyptus trees to greet the day ahead.’
As a client and architect, Nathan used the opportunity to draw upon the work of his favourite Australian architects – including Robin Boyd, Harry Seidler, Sean Godsell and Glenn Murcutt. The influence of these iconic Australian designers is evident in Nathan’s East Ballarat house, which embraces local vernacular and features materials endemic to the local environment. Nathan explains, ‘I really appreciate how Robin Boyd always made a strong effort to engage nature no matter the site constraints of a project, and how he brought local texture into a project’.
Local texture wraps around the exterior of the home in the form of locally sourced, vertically clad native Australian hardwood cladding. The timber echoes the surrounding bush environment and creates a shifting surface of moving shadows through the 3D cladding. This external texture is mirrored inside, where recycled Australian hardwood boards line the floor, set against native hardwood joinery. Nathan highlights ‘travertine stone in the kitchen picks up on the warm tones of the house, adding to the experience of the material’.
While the process of being both architect and client was one of great self-scrutiny (Nathan admits having 21 revisions of his own design before going out to tender), he also enthuses ‘every architect should live in one of their own designs once in their life’. He explains. ‘It’s important to enjoy the project but also reflect on what you can improve on to make you a better architect’.