Architect Brad Wray’s vision for this Phillip Island house was a respectful design, celebrating the surrounding landscape. The co-founder and creative director of Branch Studio Architects explains, ‘The area is a fairly eclectic mix of strange styles. There are some nice ‘60s coastal fibre-cement bungalows, but the majority of houses are brick veneer… so I couldn’t have cared less about the design of the house fitting in with the surrounding houses. What I really wanted was the house to be a good example of how to meaningfully and sensitively respond to site and context, even at a larger scale.’
Working with a huge amalgamated block (over 1700 square metres), Brad set out to test the possibilities of what a residential space looks like, by designing various ‘moments’ throughout. This desire was partially driven by the client’s love of Moroccan architecture that plays with light and dark qualities. ‘I like the fact the house in moments has the qualities of a cathedral-like space, then in other moments has the openness of a public art gallery, then, just a couple of metres away, a low-compressed, residual space like a nook in a library where one can curl up and read a book’ Brad says. The integration of a varied roofline with pop-up skylights throughout helps achieve this effect.
The floorplan of the home was devised as three separate wings – one housing the main bedroom, one with the guest wing, and the other containing the main living areas. These wings open to a central courtyard, with a deck and pool facing sand dunes on the property’s north boundary.
A combination of Australian spotted gum with red and black Colorbond cladding on the exterior references black volcanic granite rocks near the home, which build up with a reddish, coarse sediment over time. ‘We were able to achieve a really nice warm silvery brown-black which still exposes a great deal of the timbers natural grain. It has a really nice organic quality,’ Brad says. ‘The house has been designed to be almost silhouetted in the landscape. It will age gracefully, and grey more and more into the landscape with time.’