A recently retired doctor and his wife commissioned Melbourne architect Christopher Megowan of Megowan Architectural to create their three-level, 5,920-square-foot home in the seaside town of Mount Eliza on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, Australia.
The couple’s main concern was that the key living areas of the house be located on one floor, so they can engage in most of their day-to-day living on one level despite the hillside nature of the site. They wanted to concentrate most of the functional zones on this upper level because it presents the best views of the sea.
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Because the house occupies a corner site, Megowan had the opportunity to break away from the prevailing pattern of development that the other houses in the area follow. While some of the more functional elements of the house are aligned to the subdivision grid, the main spaces are cranked off-grid to better orient to the views and sun. "From there, the design resulted from contrasting the two angles internally and then setting up a contrasting, but almost thematic, material palette—bold concrete contrasting against warm timber," says Megowan.
"The hillside context worked in our favor in this regard as the entrance is at the highest point of the site, therefore reducing the scale from the street," says Megowan, who designed a massive, board-formed blade wall which starts at a single-story scale, then extends down a double-height stair void and ultimately ends up nearly three stories tall at its western extent.
"The interior and exterior are a play on the contrast between two angles of internal organization, the contrast between warm and cold materials, and a considered contrast between architecture and landscape," he adds.
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The interior layout brings another layer of contrast: the ocean view and scale is denied by the large, pivot entry door, then revealed to provide a dramatic juxtaposition between the suburban scale of the front, and the statement views and spaces of the rear.
The master bedroom faces the north and east, so the couple can awaken to the rising sun and enjoy magnificent views across the bay to the Melbourne CBD. The west- and north-facing kitchen, living room, and outdoor terrace make the best of the sunset views.
"The spaces are filled with sunlight, and there are stunning views from nearly every room in the house. The clients have told us many times how happy they are living in the house," says Megowan.
Builder: Kabsav Projects
Structural engineering: La Porta Consulting Engineers
Landscape design: John Patrick Landscape Architecture