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

An Open-Plan Home Partially Inspired By A Hitchcock Film!

Architecture

Open floor plans are exceptionally popular in contemporary homes, but how do you ensure these spaces still feel intimate?

Wickham House by Modo Architecture answers this very question, by introducing variations in volume and materiality to subtly define different spaces within its open communal living area. 

This is just one way this Melbourne home challenges current design norms. While its appearance is strictly contemporary, look closer and you’ll see how Modo have specifically tailored the design to suit the owners, with a nod to mid-century and brutalist architecture.

22nd September, 2020

Wickham House by Modo Architecture is a family home in Melbourne’s Strathmore. Photo – Derek Swalwell

The property features an inviting front garden. Photo – Derek Swalwell

The house (actually an elaborate film set) in Hitchcock’s thriller North by Northwest was a point of inspiration for the design, ‘specifically the feeling of weight from the brick structure, the lightness from the glass and timber, and the play of volumes internally,’ says Michael. Photo – Derek Swalwell

‘Our approach to this was to position the pool right in the centre. This then becomes the visual and formal anchor for the moment you walk in,’ says Michael of the pool’s placement. Photo – Derek Swalwell

Blinds surround the pool, allowing this to be closed off from the living areas as required. Photo – Derek Swalwell

A barbecue area in the outdoor area. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Large windows take in garden views. Photo – Derek Swalwell

This hallway reading nook enjoys ample natural light. Photo – Derek Swalwell

Also integral to this home is the way the floor plan essentially hugs the outdoor lap pool. Photo – Derek Swalwell

While its appearance is strictly contemporary, look closer and you’ll see how Modo have specifically tailored this house’s design to suit the owners and their context. Photo – Derek Swalwell

Variations in volume and materiality subtly define different spaces within the home’s open communal area.  Photo – Derek Swalwell

The concrete block wall facilitates thermal mass to passively cool and warm the house. Photo – Derek Swalwell

A steel staircase with fine balustrades divides the living room from the kitchen, without fully eliminating the visual connection between the two. Photo – Derek Swalwell

The living room’s raked ceiling allows the room to feel generous, while bringing in additional northern light. Photo – Derek Swalwell

‘It was also important for us that all rooms shared commonalities and felt unified, so our use of block wall and timber cladding was key to holding them together,’ says Modo director Michael Ong. Photo – Derek Swalwell

The upper storey looks directly out to a mature tree in front yard. Photo – Derek Swalwell

The use of timber extends to the bathroom cabinetry. Photo – Derek Swalwell

Amelia Barnes
Tuesday 22nd September 2020

‘They wanted the house to feel open, but not disconnected.’ – Michael Ong

This Strathmore project (10 kilometres north-west of the Melbourne CBD) started with a relatively simple and standard brief for a family home, but clever planning by Modo Architecture has resulted in a unique design showcasing substance and personality.

The idea of open-plan living was floated early in the design process, and while both Modo and the client (a family of four) expressed interest in this arrangement, they were keen to avoid common drawbacks. ‘We spoke about how the idea of a modern, open living plan is often a large room with loose furniture, creating this ‘gymnasium’ and ‘hollow’ atmosphere,’ says Michael Ong, director of Modo. ‘They wanted the house to feel open, but not disconnected.’

In response, Modo designed the communal areas of the home as a generally open layout, but with subtle differences in materiality and volume that clearly distinguish spaces from one another. The kitchen, for example, adopts the form of a double-height space, whereas the adjacent dining room features a lowered timber ceiling. ‘This softens the acoustics and minimises echoes, creating a more intimate space, while the lowered height encourages you to sit deeper and relax more in your chair,’ explains Michael. A steel staircase with fine balustrades divides the living room from the kitchen, without fully eliminating the visual connection between the two. 

Also integral to this home is the way the floor plan essentially hugs the outdoor lap pool. This placement of the pool was very deliberate, Michael explains. ‘Our approach to this was to position the pool right in the centre. This then becomes the visual and formal anchor for the moment you walk in,’ he says. ‘Reflection from the water is bounced into the house throughout the day, and the pool not only becomes a place for the kids to train, but a visual element that adds to the interior.’

The use of concrete block work and various flat-roofed forms references the client’s love of mid-century and brutalist architecture. The Vandamm house (actually an elaborate film set) in Hitchcock’s thriller North by Northwest was also a point of inspiration, ‘specifically the feeling of weight from the brick structure, the lightness from the glass and timber, and the play of volumes internally,’ says Michael. Let this inspiration be the only similarity to living in a Hitchcock film! 

See more from Modo here.

This Week

On The Market

A Light + Bright Beachside Home Hits The Market

This property in Sunrise Beach, Noosa is a full time home that feels like a holiday home - and it’s ready for new inhabitants!

Gardens

A WOW-Factor 'Secret Garden' In Blairgowrie

Ian Barker Gardens creates a private outdoor sanctuary on the Mornington Peninsula.

Interiors

11 Mirrors That Are Having A Moment!

Lauren Li's edit of her favourite mirrors out there right now, to take your space to the next level!
Lauren Li

TDF Design Awards

The Most Fabulous New Furniture Designs In The TDF + Laminex Design Awards 2021

There is no shortage of innovation and inspiration from the Furniture Design finalists In The TDF + Laminex Design Awards this year!

Interiors

A Joyful Home, Full Of Whimsy + Glamour

Scalloped edges and vibrant colours have elevated this Sydney terrace by Arent&Pyke.

Interiors

A Before-And-After Interior Renovation That’ll Knock Your Socks Off!

AMA Studio Interiors transforms a rustic, wood-panelled cottage on the NSW Central Coast into dreamy family retreat.

Architecture

A Modernist-Inspired Seaside Home

This adaptable, Victorian seaside home designed by Nest Architects and Placement blurs the line between modernism and contemporary design. ...

Architecture

A 90m² Inner-Suburban Block Turned Multipurpose Family Home!

MRTN Architects have designed family home, office, and granny flat on a mere 90m² Brunswick East block!

News

Delicious New Bed Linen From A Local Fave

Melbourne-based bed linen stars, The Sheet Society, launches a moody new winter range ripe for mixing + matching.
Sponsored

News

An Online Super Store + Subscription Service For All-Natural Goodies

GoodnessMe carries over 3,000 products from snacks to ready-made meals – with samples delivered to your door every month!
Sponsored

Homes

A Remarkable Family Home Transformation

Maddie and Mike Witter transformed a mould-ridden, dilapidated house into a bright and breezy family home for six!
51:47

Podcast

Country Road’s Managing Director On The Stickiness Of Sustainable Fashion, On TDF Talks

In this podcast conversation, Elle Roseby talks leading one of the country’s most iconic brands through a new age in the fashion industry....

Interiors

A Glam ’60s-Inspired Makeover For A Drab Suburban Home

Kaiko Design transform a forgettable suburban space into a ritzy family residence, with big personality!
02:27

Travel

A Perfect Day in Daylesford & The Macedon Ranges, With Paul Bangay

Lucy joins legendary landscape designer Paul Bangay for a dreamy day trip in Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges, capturing the best that the

Architecture

A New Zealand Villa Built For Hosting

Architecture firm Maud creates a home for a family of hospitality professionals, built around a generous kitchen, outdoor room + pétanque g...

View Comments

Similar Stories

Architecture

A Dazzling (Yet Inviting!) Family Home

Brutalist inspired architecture meets contemporary Australian style, in this WOW-factor Melbourne home by Kennon Architects.

Architecture

A Mindful, Minimal Take On Modernist Design

Studiofour design a thoughtful, contemporary family residence, amongst Beaumaris' iconic mid-century homes.

Architecture

A Totally Transfixing Concrete Retreat

This contemporary family home in Kew by Architects EAT is totally secluded, yet bright, breezy and open!
Sasha Gattermayr

This Week

Architecture

A New Zealand Villa Built For Hosting

Architecture firm Maud creates a home for a family of hospitality professionals, built around a generous kitchen, outdoor room + pétanque g...

Interiors

A Joyful Home, Full Of Whimsy + Glamour

Scalloped edges and vibrant colours have elevated this Sydney terrace by Arent&Pyke.

Architecture

A Modernist-Inspired Seaside Home

This adaptable, Victorian seaside home designed by Nest Architects and Placement blurs the line between modernism and contemporary design. ...

News

Delicious New Bed Linen From A Local Fave

Melbourne-based bed linen stars, The Sheet Society, launches a moody new winter range ripe for mixing + matching.
Sponsored

Homes

A Remarkable Family Home Transformation

Maddie and Mike Witter transformed a mould-ridden, dilapidated house into a bright and breezy family home for six!

Architecture

A 90m² Inner-Suburban Block Turned Multipurpose Family Home!

MRTN Architects have designed family home, office, and granny flat on a mere 90m² Brunswick East block!

Interiors

A Before-And-After Interior Renovation That’ll Knock Your Socks Off!

AMA Studio Interiors transforms a rustic, wood-panelled cottage on the NSW Central Coast into dreamy family retreat.

News

An Online Super Store + Subscription Service For All-Natural Goodies

GoodnessMe carries over 3,000 products from snacks to ready-made meals – with samples delivered to your door every month!
Sponsored
51:47

Podcast

Country Road’s Managing Director On The Stickiness Of Sustainable Fashion, On TDF Talks

In this podcast conversation, Elle Roseby talks leading one of the country’s most iconic brands through a new age in the fashion industry....

Gardens

A WOW-Factor 'Secret Garden' In Blairgowrie

Ian Barker Gardens creates a private outdoor sanctuary on the Mornington Peninsula.

On The Market

A Light + Bright Beachside Home Hits The Market

This property in Sunrise Beach, Noosa is a full time home that feels like a holiday home - and it’s ready for new inhabitants!
02:27

Travel

A Perfect Day in Daylesford & The Macedon Ranges, With Paul Bangay

Lucy joins legendary landscape designer Paul Bangay for a dreamy day trip in Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges, capturing the best that the

TDF Design Awards

The Most Fabulous New Furniture Designs In The TDF + Laminex Design Awards 2021

There is no shortage of innovation and inspiration from the Furniture Design finalists In The TDF + Laminex Design Awards this year!

Interiors

11 Mirrors That Are Having A Moment!

Lauren Li's edit of her favourite mirrors out there right now, to take your space to the next level!
Lauren Li

Interiors

A Glam ’60s-Inspired Makeover For A Drab Suburban Home

Kaiko Design transform a forgettable suburban space into a ritzy family residence, with big personality!

Similar Stories

Architecture

A Dazzling (Yet Inviting!) Family Home

Brutalist inspired architecture meets contemporary Australian style.

Architecture

A Mindful, Minimal Take On Modernist Design

Studiofour design a contemporary family residence, amongst Beaumaris' iconic mid-century homes.

Architecture

A Totally Transfixing Concrete Retreat

This contemporary family home in Kew by Architects EAT is totally secluded, yet bright, breezy and open!
Sasha Gattermayr

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 – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.