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A Family Home That Mirrors Nature

Architecture

This family home in Red Hill, Victoria, has been designed in direct response to its sloping, bush block. But rather than flattening the site, the designers decided to lean into its existing conditions, developing a tiered floor plan that naturally distinguishes different areas of the home. 

Designed and built by InForm in collaboration with Pleysier Perkins architects, the house is clad with locally-sourced rough sawn timber, and seamlessly blends into its natural surrounds. 

30th October, 2020

The main open-living area. Styling – Bek Sheppard. Photo – James Geer

Working with the natural topography, the house is divided into a series of stepped floor plates. Styling – Bek Sheppard. Photo – James Geer

The soft grey palette of the interior, together with the timber and bagged cement brick walls, give the home a calm and quiet character. Styling – Bek Sheppard. Photo – James Geer

The tiered floor plan means each room has a unique view of the surrounding bushland. Styling – Bek Sheppard. Photo – James Geer

Lillian on the living room bench seat. Styling – Bek Sheppard. Photo – James Geer

Built-in joinery features throughout the home. Styling – Bek Sheppard. Photo – James Geer

The owners describe sitting by the fire in the evening as ‘pure magic.’ Styling – Bek Sheppard. Photo – James Geer

A study nook in the main bedroom suite. Styling – Bek Sheppard. Photo – James Geer

Artwork above the bed by Ronan Bouroullec. Styling – Bek Sheppard. Photo – James Geer

The bathrooms include timber cabinetry in keeping with the rest of the house. Styling – Bek Sheppard. Photo – James Geer

Styling – Bek Sheppard. Photo – James Geer

Cladding is made from locally-sourced rough sawn timber. Styling – Bek Sheppard. Photo – James Geer

The pergola incorporates reclaimed timber beams. Styling – Bek Sheppard. Photo – James Geer

The home encourages exploration and engagement with the land. Styling – Bek Sheppard. Photo – James Geer

The entire house has been designed to mirror the bushland on the Red Hill block, including its naturally sloping topography and many gum trees. Styling – Bek Sheppard. Photo – James Geer

Amelia Barnes
Friday 30th October 2020

‘The idea was to move up and down with the natural sloping topography…Exploring movement in the architecture akin to a hike in the bush, weaving between trees and jumping over logs.’ – Ross Berger

Jane and Lloyd Fenn and their children Lillian, 11, Audrey, 10, and Eddie, 6, moved from Melbourne to the Mornington Peninsula with the hopes of better connecting to nature – something they’ve achieved in the design of their home. 

The house has been designed to mirror the bushland on their Red Hill block, including its naturally sloping topography and many gum trees. 

In their brief to builders and designers InForm, who worked on this project in collaboration with Pleysier Perkins architects, Jane and Lloyd were keen to create a home that would encourage exploration and engagement with the land. 

‘A conventional double-storey house was not the right approach, as this would have disconnected the spaces from direct engagement with the land and the bulk of the house would have impacted views of the surrounding tree line,’ explains Ross Berger, architect at Pleysier Perkins. ‘Instead, the house was designed as a single-storey structure around a central courtyard, which provides light and sanctuary, without detracting from the view.’

Included in the single-storey are various tiered zones, which encourage movement through the home inspired by walking in nature. ‘The idea was to move up and down with the natural sloping topography…Exploring movement in the architecture akin to a hike in the bush, weaving between trees and jumping over logs,’ Ross says.

This feeling of being in nature is enhanced via views of the surrounding land, which have been exquisitely framed throughout the interiors. 

Another element Jane and Lloyd requested in their brief was a designated room to work from home. This space has been carefully positioned by InForm in its own zone of the house, which is deliberately accessible from the outside only.

An equally considered space is the second living room, which Jane and Lloyd affectionately call ‘The Room of Requirement’ (a Harry Potter reference for those not in the know!). ‘Originally the room was designed as a quiet space for reading, but it’s also regularly used for morning yoga, kids sleepovers, as a karate dojo, and most recently for home schooling,’ they say.

It’s not only the floor plan of this house that references nature, the exterior has also been carefully considered to reflect its environment. Cladding on the facade is made from locally-sourced rough sawn timber, and the pergola incorporates reclaimed timber beams. Ross’ favourite element of the project are the exposed trusses and irregularly spaced battens on this outdoor space, which create a dynamic play of shadows over the course of the day.

Surrounded by natural elements both inside and out, this home is truly a sanctuary!

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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