The appeal of a getaway just an hour’s drive south of bustling Melbourne has lured many to Merricks Beach, a small seaside community on Australia’s Mornington Peninsula. Originally farmland, the area experienced a brief building boom in the 1960s, when vacation homes sprouted among the dirt roads and gum trees. Little has been developed since then, and the enclave retains its pastoral appeal; few houses and even fewer vacant lots end up on the market. So when architect Rachel Nolan and her husband, Steven Farrell—longtime visitors to the area—discovered an empty parcel in 2010, they immediately scooped it up and hatched plans to build a modest weekend retreat.
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