It seems this Clayfield project was always meant to be. Architect Shane Marsh described the way in which the collaboration between builder Bruce Muggeridge, and the property owner came about as something that ‘never happens’. An engineering school friendship, a site and a few beers was coupled with a great design and a very trusting client. It simply sounds like one of those projects where everything fell into place right from the get go.
Over 4-5 months, Bruce worked collaboratively with the team to get the project off the ground and the result was everything they had hoped for and more. With the clients being inspired by architects Isay Weinfield and Richard Neutra, this was never going to be a traditional, ordinary house. In fact, the pavilion on the rear of the building is a piece of engineering genius, says Shane.
The desire was to play with depth and shadow with a limited palette of materials and colour, but a lot of space and light. This was so there would be no design detail or material that was trying to complete with each other, particularly the Baw Baw dry stone walling. Natural stone was one of the client’s loves and as such, it featured heavily in the front of the building.
Shane said by pairing the other materials and tones back, they were able let the stone be without having it dominant the space. He even tweaked some of the colours within the home to work better with the natural tones of the stone. While the building is large on footprint, the entrance into the home is much more restrained. This offers the surprise of openness and scale as guests venture inside for the first time.
The client was eager to get the design of the contemporary kitchen, dining and living area just right; sometimes tricky to do in such a simple, clean-lined space. Cleverly, Shane created a butler’s kitchen hidden behind the timber cabinetry of the ‘presentation’ kitchen to keep the minimalist look. With no TV in sight, the living and dining room takes advantage of the expansive space and the connection to the two gardens on either side of the building.
Off the main living area are what the architect describes as ‘two wings’. The first wing, has been designed to be deliberately heavy, in order to make it feel low and non-dominating; almost utilitarian part of the house. It contains the garage, wine cellar, powder room and is the entrance to both the main house and the office, which is the second wing.
A stairway heads up to a separate office, purposely designed so that the client doesn’t have to travel to work. With meeting rooms, a kitchenette, ample light and impressive views to the city, the staff are provided with a great environment to work in. Privacy to the rest of the house, including the master bedroom, is created through the use of timber screens which link back into the material of the façade.
Shane says all the basics of architecture were applied to the design of this house. “If you apply a certain set of rules, you end up with great architecture”. He regards this design as nothing over the top, yet on the surface it appears over the top. Shane believes in many ways architects dictate how people live their lives due to the design of the spaces. The simple nature of removing the TV changes the way you live. The project had a very different set of client requirements than many of the homes Shane is used to designing, which has had such a positive influence on the outcome. The palette of materials isn’t huge, the configuration is relatively simple, but it has resulted in big grandiose spaces conducive to modern living.