A Fire-Resistant House Cuts a Striking Figure in the Australian Bush
By the time the client, Matt Somers, enlisted the help of Fitzroy–based Field Office Architecture to craft a spacious, three-bedroom, country abode for his family of four, he knew he wanted something bold and contemporary.
Instead of giving up the design reins, Matt worked closely with principal architect Chris Barnes to execute his vision for a modernist home that would make the most of its stunning, bushland views.
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"At the very first briefing session, the client presented to us some very modernist images, including work by Mies van der Rohe," explains Chris. "It’s not every day the client hands you such an exciting brief, and we knew very early on that all parties were going to be on the same page."
Moreover, the client worked in an industry with access to bespoke cladding and building products, an advantage that Chris says "essentially gave us the opportunity to design many of the items we wanted from scratch."
Mirroring its long and narrow site, the 2,200-square-foot Mount Macedon House stretches north to south as a rectangular volume elevated on pillars to mitigate the steep, yet minimally excavated, slope.
Spectacular views of the bushland to the north and northeast informed the interior layout. The living spaces are oriented towards the north and overlook views through glazed sliding doors, while the sleeping and study spaces are tucked into the more introverted, Cor-Ten-clad rear half of the home.
Since the dwelling is located in an area considered very high risk for bush fire attacks, the material palette and footprint had been largely informed by stringent, BAL 40 requirements.
The windows, for instance, needed to include full screens with an aperture no greater than a tenth of an inch. The solution came in the form of bespoke, hinged and perforated Cor-Ten-clad panels that can be remotely opened and closed as required.
Similar sliding screens are used for the living area glazing on the north side of the home.
Chris concludes, "We expected that in designing our own cladding profiles and having them come to site that something would go wrong, but we were quite fortunate that it was incredibly smooth in the end!"