Grand Designs Australia: Hill House
The house on the hill
Combining the Elements
This house in Victoria uses leading lines to create the feeling of unrestricted flow, perfect for taking in its expansive ocean views and marrying geometry, wood and stone textures with a natural colour palette of whites, greys and browns.
The two-storey home was designed by Rachcoff Vella Architecture and built by Marradon Constructions in close collaboration with the property’s owner, though the architect says they had plenty of creative freedom.
Being on the Mornington Peninsula, the brief was to create something that was suited to the beachside location, with curved elements and calming qualities – but without being a typical beach shack.
The narrow site has a 5m drop and north-south orientation with views at either end so when the owner asked the team at Rachcoff Vella to position her floating above the water views below, the team made it happen.
The Buildings Conception
“The building was conceived in two parts: a simple linear plan responding to the site, and a curvaceous and embracing form delivering a requirement of the brief,” says Rachcoff Vella Architecture’s Tony Vella.
The front exterior of the house is especially spectacular. A stone wall arcs around and up from the driveway to meet the timber entrance, a curved stone and timber sculptural feat that has given the home an alluring and welcoming facade.
“We distorted the built form to offer a distinct personality and create the suggestion of protection,” says Tony of the home’s impressive front.
The home’s positioning means internal spaces are extruded along the site’s long axis to take opportunity of the beautiful vista. As a result, the house is flooded with sunlight and so motorised sun blinds that respond to the sun’s position were integrated into the structural systems during the property’s construction. During colder weather, wall, slab, roof and ceiling insulation offers a high level of thermal comfort.
A 20,000L underground water tank was included for landscaping and the home also features a three-panel solar-hot-water system, energy-efficient hot-water units and hydronic heating.
The Separate House Zones
The house is composed in two zones with the ground floor consisting of two bedrooms, a main bathroom and second living area that could also act as another bedroom. The first floor is the main living zone with a master bedroom, ensuite, entrance and kitchen, dining and living spaces.
“Conceptually, the interiors are conceived as spaces that allow the main occupant to engage with the surrounds, embracing a relaxed lifestyle and calm environment,” says Tony.
Though she loves unwinding before her uninterrupted views, the homeowner also loves to entertain. The new home had to be a functional space where she could cater for this. “The flexibility of the internal spaces also allows her to host an influx of guests and increase the energy and pace of life,” says Tony.
Choosing the Palette
A limited neutral palette of white, grey and natural stone and timber finishes complement the sweeping water views and, according to Tony, lets the colourful nature of the homeowner’s character shine.
Interesting leading lines are evident throughout and keep the look and feel consistent and spacious, making the most of the ocean views. The interior furnishings are minimalist and pared back in keeping with the geometric look and feel of the home.
Nothing Resembling a Spaceship Please
“There were many entertaining and well-debated design conversations between client and architect throughout the project. It was a very collaborative and inclusive process, which was integral to the success of the project… it was certainly a team effort from all involved,” says Tony, who says one of the most memorable conversations he had with the homeowner was an initial meeting in which she described exactly what she didn’t want — nothing resembling a spaceship please.
The Stunning End Results
The stunning end result was the coming together of all involved and was a “team effort,” he adds.
A home of this calibre understandably has a certain level of street presence. This architectural beauty and the personality that such a unique creation holds is something which Tony says he is particularly proud of.
“Hill House is proudly a sculptural object embracing an artistic and playful response while delivering uncompromised and flexible living for its inhabitants.”
WORDS / Emma Wheaton PHOTOGRAPHY / Shannon McGrath
From Grand Designs Australia magazine Vol. 3 No. 1.
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