This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

A Very Contemporary Country Escape

Architecture

When architects Telha Clarke were engaged to design a semi-rural home for a young family, their clients expressed two key interests. As city apartment dwellers by weekday, they were seeking a weekend house that would give them privacy, while also providing a connection to the landscape. 

With these goals in mind, architect Tim Clarke and his team set out to design a relaxing retreat for the couple and their newborn son. The result is a sleek, contemporary cabin-like main house, with a contrasting guest wing, surrounded by native flora.

7th April, 2020

The main building Hepburn Springs House adopts a cabin-like, raked ceiling form. Photo – Lynton Crabb

Photo – Lynton Crabb

Photo – Lynton Crabb

The dark timber kitchen island bench. Photo – Lynton Crabb

A minimal, contemporary bathroom. Photo – Lynton Crabb

This home is all about relaxation! Photo – Lynton Crabb

Entry into the home is via a serene vestibule. Photo – Lynton Crabb

A fully-glazed wall frames views of native trees. Photo – Lynton Crabb

The home appears as two perpendicular forms among existing mature trees. Photo – Lynton Crabb

Amelia Barnes
Tuesday 7th April 2020

‘The resulting slate shingles are a beautiful outcome within the site context, and one which we may not have explored without bushfire constraints.’ – Tim Clarke

Hepburn Springs House is the weekender of a young family whose predominant residence is a Melbourne CBD apartment. As their apartment offers minimal privacy and no connection to nature, the owners were seeking a second house immersed in the landscape, where they could unwind from their busy lives. 

The site itself is a lush block with a natural gully in Hepburn Springs, located about 90 minutes north-west of Melbourne. On a plateaued slice of land, the home appears as two perpendicular forms among existing mature trees. Slate shingles envelope the large cabin-like form, while the guest wing adopts a lower, white rendered form. 

The cabin-like form of the main house was inspired by Peter Zumthor’s 1988 ‘Caplutta Sogn Benedetg’ (St Benedict Chapel) in Sumvitg, Switzerland, which is covered in timber shingles. This same treatment was originally planned for this project, however, due to strict bushfire building codes in the area, inherently fire retardant slate shingles were selected. ‘The resulting slate shingles are a beautiful outcome within the site context, and one which we may not have explored without bushfire constraints,’ says Tim Clarke, director of Telha Clarke

The guest wing is deliberately simpler in form, allowing light and shadow to express the outside landscape. ‘A granite stone threshold forms a bold marker as you transition from the pitched roof cabin into the contemporary guest wing, subtly referencing the outdoor greenery,’ Tim says.  

Telha Clarke’s design is mindful of the existing landscape, reinforcing the gully on site with local stone to ensure its presence and purpose is retained.  Retaining walls on the site are also constructed of local stone, further connecting the local aspirations of the project. Contemporary dormer windows and the fully-glazed wall in the main house seek to draw residents’ eyes out to these intentionally framed views. 

While this weekend house bears no resemblance in materiality or landscape to the family’s apartment, the latter did inform the 180 square metre size of the new house. ‘Size is the only similarity the two share, with privacy and landscape connection being the contrast and relief that the house provides over the apartment,’ says Tim. Raked ceilings and expansive views further increase the perception of space internally. 

For the owners, arriving at this house signifies a change of pace. Passing through the vestibule at the home’s entrance allows for a moment of pause, before stepping into their peaceful, minimal haven. 

This Week

2.25

Art

The NGA’s Cressida Campbell Exhibition Celebrates Her Glorious 40-Year Career

A studio visit with Cressida Campbell, ahead of her exciting survey exhibition at the National Gallery Of Australia.

Interiors

A Vintage Furniture Collector’s Humble Family Home, Filled With Iconic Pieces

IT engineer Trung Tu's Melbourne home hides an enviable collection of designer furniture and art from different eras!
Christina Karras

Studio Visit

The Haunting, Shadow-Inspired Paintings Of Melbourne Artist Ella Dunn

How the imaginative banter of two children on a set of swings inspired the artist's latest body of work.

Interiors

Inside A Striking Two-Storey Addition, Hidden Behind A Heritage Facade

To accommodate their client's need for more space, Altereco has designed a contemporary two-storey addition that lies discreetly behind a be...
Bea Taylor
  7 hours ago

Interiors

A Contemporary New Home Grounded In An Earthy, Natural Palette

Inspired by his client's extensive art collection, interior designer Brahman Perera creates a stunning, timeless home.

Architecture

The New Australian Housing Company Creating Customisable Small Homes

Dimensions X aims to be the ‘Tesla of housing’, creating energy-efficient, prefabricated homes that can be assembled in just six weeks.

Interiors

A Contemporary Extension For A Much-Loved Warrandyte Family Home

A sustainable family home addition by Sanctum Homes in Warrandyte, Melbourne embraces its surrounding bush landscape.
1.58

One Room Wonders

Before + After: An Arty + Eclectic Kids Bedroom Transformation

See how we transformed a simple space into a fun and colourful kids bedroom (in just one week!) with Surround by Laminex.

News

Step Inside Some Of Tasmania’s Most Unique Homes At Open House Hobart

Your chance to visit Hobart’s best homes and buildings on November 12 – 13!
Sponsored

Shopping

Meet The Business Creating Fully Customisable Furniture Right Here In Melbourne

We visited Zenn Design at their brand-new Melbourne showroom to learn about their bespoke, luxury furniture offerings!
Christina Karras

Homes

An Elegant Art Deco Apartment Rental With Water Views

Jill McCormick's fashionable home for one, in Sydney's dreamy Elizabeth Bay.

Architecture

A Treehouse Companion For An Architecturally-Significant Noosa Home

An innovative 1983 Gabriel Poole house on the same site inspired this new home by Bark Architects embracing the bushy Noosa landscape.

News

Eva’s New Dining Range Is Sustainably Designed For Everyday Life!

Australian furniture brand Eva debuts their beautiful new dining table and chairs that will become the hub of your home for years to come.
Sponsored

News

Visit A New Art Precinct Celebrating Melbourne’s First Nations History

Browse sculptures, installations and projections by renowned artists Reko Rennie, Yhonnie Scarce and more in a new public art walk!
Christina Karras

Studio Visit

Why The Internet Is In Love With Libby Haines’ Beautiful Still-Life Paintings

Melbourne artist Libby Haines' works are a wonderfully messy reflection of everyday life - and they sell out on Instagram within seconds!
Christina Karras
  15 hours ago

Similar Stories

Architecture

A Home That Blends Seamlessly Into Its Bushy Surrounds

Built around rammed earth wall, 'Yellowgums' by Josh Crosbie Architects is thoughtfully designed around its natural environment.

Architecture

A Sleek, Shed-Style Home In Rural Victoria

Inside Lovell Burton's refined Macedon Ranges home.

Architecture

An Off-Grid Rural House, Designed For The Future

MRTN Architects have designed an adaptable shed and home, made from salvaged bricks and upcycled materials in Nulla Vale, Victoria.
Amelia Barnes

This Week

Architecture

The New Australian Housing Company Creating Customisable Small Homes

Dimensions X aims to be the ‘Tesla of housing’, creating energy-efficient, prefabricated homes that can be assembled in just six weeks.

Shopping

Meet The Business Creating Fully Customisable Furniture Right Here In Melbourne

We visited Zenn Design at their brand-new Melbourne showroom to learn about their bespoke, luxury furniture offerings!
Christina Karras
1.58

One Room Wonders

Before + After: An Arty + Eclectic Kids Bedroom Transformation

See how we transformed a simple space into a fun and colourful kids bedroom (in just one week!) with Surround by Laminex.

Studio Visit

The Haunting, Shadow-Inspired Paintings Of Melbourne Artist Ella Dunn

How the imaginative banter of two children on a set of swings inspired the artist's latest body of work.

Interiors

A Contemporary Extension For A Much-Loved Warrandyte Family Home

A sustainable family home addition by Sanctum Homes in Warrandyte, Melbourne embraces its surrounding bush landscape.

Architecture

A Treehouse Companion For An Architecturally-Significant Noosa Home

An innovative 1983 Gabriel Poole house on the same site inspired this new home by Bark Architects embracing the bushy Noosa landscape.

Studio Visit

Why The Internet Is In Love With Libby Haines’ Beautiful Still-Life Paintings

Melbourne artist Libby Haines' works are a wonderfully messy reflection of everyday life - and they sell out on Instagram within seconds!
Christina Karras
  15 hours ago

News

Step Inside Some Of Tasmania’s Most Unique Homes At Open House Hobart

Your chance to visit Hobart’s best homes and buildings on November 12 – 13!
Sponsored

Interiors

Inside A Striking Two-Storey Addition, Hidden Behind A Heritage Facade

To accommodate their client's need for more space, Altereco has designed a contemporary two-storey addition that lies discreetly behind a be...
Bea Taylor
  7 hours ago

News

Visit A New Art Precinct Celebrating Melbourne’s First Nations History

Browse sculptures, installations and projections by renowned artists Reko Rennie, Yhonnie Scarce and more in a new public art walk!
Christina Karras

News

Eva’s New Dining Range Is Sustainably Designed For Everyday Life!

Australian furniture brand Eva debuts their beautiful new dining table and chairs that will become the hub of your home for years to come.
Sponsored

Interiors

A Contemporary New Home Grounded In An Earthy, Natural Palette

Inspired by his client's extensive art collection, interior designer Brahman Perera creates a stunning, timeless home.
2.25

Art

The NGA’s Cressida Campbell Exhibition Celebrates Her Glorious 40-Year Career

A studio visit with Cressida Campbell, ahead of her exciting survey exhibition at the National Gallery Of Australia.

Homes

An Elegant Art Deco Apartment Rental With Water Views

Jill McCormick's fashionable home for one, in Sydney's dreamy Elizabeth Bay.

Interiors

A Vintage Furniture Collector’s Humble Family Home, Filled With Iconic Pieces

IT engineer Trung Tu's Melbourne home hides an enviable collection of designer furniture and art from different eras!
Christina Karras

Similar Stories

Architecture

A Home That Blends Seamlessly Into Its Bushy Surrounds

'Yellowgums' by Josh Crosbie Architects is thoughtfully designed around its natural environment.

Architecture

A Sleek, Shed-Style Home In Rural Victoria

Inside Lovell Burton's refined Macedon Ranges home.

Architecture

An Off-Grid Rural House, Designed For The Future

MRTN Architects have designed an adaptable shed and home, made from salvaged bricks and upcycled materials in Nulla Vale, Victoria.
Amelia Barnes

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net