It’s a bloody treat to see more well-crafted, architecturally designed homes nestling themselves into the Gippsland landscape.
When the 2016 ArchiTeam Awards were announced, this ruggedly handsome house in Fish Creek won the best new residential project. With the trophy firmly in their grasp, and a feature in Houses (#114) magazine hitting newsagents shelves, we got in touch with the award-winning architects, Edition Office, to get the story behind the Fish Creek House.
The house sits firmly along a winding ridgeline on the outskirts of the small township. Although the site is positioned within a broader rural setting, the property itself is a slender piece of land exposed to the road and powerlines to the west and yet it gave access to expansive views of Wilsons Promontory to the east.
This set of site conditions leads to a long, linear building, with great transparency to the east, drawing the views and the horizon into the home while firmly anchoring its position with a strong protective wall to the west.
The long, highly textured wall wraps three nested, black timber pavilions in like a rough and coarse blanket, offering shelter, while they sit upon the lower wall edge and gaze out upon the undulating and extraordinary coastline of the Prom. These rough external brick walls are built from well-worn recycled bricks and feature a pattern of highly textured horizontal mortar joints. The three pavilions are pulled out from each other, and the northern edge of the rough brick wall, to allow sunlight to slide deep into a series of sheltered and planted courtyards, which offer immediate garden and deck relationships to the interior spaces. These interiors provide a warm and robust palette of timber-lined walls, black-pigmented concrete floors and black form-ply ceilings.
The surrounding brick wall responds to the courtyards with hit-and-miss sections, allowing controlled western sun into these spaces.
The project benefited from a collaborative, flexible client relationship. They were genuinely interested in amplifying the experiential qualities of their home and site. Conversations around interior and exterior spatial relationships, strengthening connections with the particular qualities of the landscape, and material and textural qualities were part of the design discussion. Although the whole design process evolved through in-depth and open communication, the clients were still brave enough to trust in decisions that altered throughout the construction process; for instance, the brick wall was originally intended to be painted white, however, the mortar and recycled brick detail lead to an unexpected, yet a beautiful tonal shift in the building as a whole.
This robustly solid, but soft and textured wall anchored the building to the site in a far stronger way. It’s earthen qualities more sympathetic to the considered grace and deep humility of both the surrounding landscape and community and has become one of the home’s key defining characteristics.
Using an architect obviously has its benefits in the creation of a building that is tailored to both the site and client brief. It is especially beneficial when the relationship with the client is such that risk and trust can be openly reviewed and assessed, leading to results that strengthen the build and experiential outcome, as was the case with this project.