Grand Designs Australia: Vineyard House
Architecturally captivating home offers the perfect retirement retreat
A home with many possibilities
A working vineyard for more than a decade, this 12ha property in Kangaroo Ground, Victoria, was completely covered in vines before the project commenced. As the home is perched on a relatively steep, north-facing slope, the main objective of the brief was to make the most of the magnificent views from the north to the east. With adult children and frequently visiting grandchildren, the couple needed a “retirement retreat” that could still accommodate family and friends comfortably, including the possibility of “grandchildren zooming around on trikes through the house.”
The project was a collaboration between Michael Sheppard from Sheppard & Dwyer Architects, Lisa Grounds from Bliink Interiors, and Anthony Northwood from Eco Edge Homes. “Working with Michael was like having a master class on shapes and angles,” says Lisa. “I really enjoyed this process. They allowed me the freedom to choose the finishes even if they thought I had gone nuts.” For a modern and clean look, a minimalist palette including stone, glass, metal and timber was chosen for the exterior and, as a result, no painting was required. This restrained palette is continued with organic-inspired interiors including neutral walls in Dulux Mount Buller, warm timber finishes and minimal furnishings. In keeping with the landscape, the interiors are decorated with Australian-inspired pieces including a fabulous Bottlebrush rug in the living room.
Working with the Space
While the couple embarked on this build for the purpose of downsizing, the home still has plenty of space with four bedrooms, a study, powder room, cinema, three-car garage and ample storage. Though spacious and boasting plenty of features, special consideration was required to ensuring the home is as low maintenance as possible. For both safety and aesthetic purposes, there are no eaves or gutters on the roof. Alternatively, a wide central box gutter was incorporated, allowing the owners to sweep away debris as they walk beside it.
Fascinating architecturally, this unique home makes a great first impression with its curved eave and butterfly skillion roofline. Designed along the contours of the land and taking from the bushland surrounds, the form of the main roof was inspired by the shape of a gum leaf. “A lot of locals and sightseers assumed the structure didn’t fit into a traditional or recognisable house shape,” says Michael. “The most common assumption was that it was a cellar door or restaurant.” Anchoring the home into the hill and contributing to its solid structure, the south half of the house is finished in natural stone. While on the north side, the combination of glass, steel and a cantilevered deck create a feeling of lightness, as if the home is floating above the vineyard. Fine lines leading to the edge of the roof and galvanised steel pipes enhance this light feeling in the roof planes.
Built on an Old Volcano
With the site positioned on an old volcano, the soil was highly reactive and so the slab structure had to be founded on base rock rather than clay. Additionally, the site’s exposed location meant that it needed to withstand very high winds with the possibility of sub–cyclonic conditions. A skeleton steel frame was incorporated to both hold up and tie down the roof. As the clients’ previous family home was built in the ‘80s, they were excited about updated facilities and improved energy efficiency for their new build. For superior temperature control, thicker-than-standard thermal mass was incorporated into the home through the ground slab and masonry walls as well as high-performance insulation in the roof and walls. Extensive double glazing was applied to the home through curved panels and windows, with extended eaves added to those on the north side.
“The house is a modern interpretation of a country house combined with modern living requirements,” says Michael. “It is single storey with extended eaves and verandahs but instead of closing down around the house, the roof opens up and embraces the surroundings.” And this home certainly fits the brief for a view, taking in the stunning landscape that stretches towards Kinglake National Park and the Yarra Valley.
“Nominating my favourite part of the house is like trying to name your favourite child,” says Michael, who admires the seamless flow from the internal living area to the alfresco deck featuring a curved “sky glass” balustrade. “The sliding doors totally disappear into the wall cavity,” he adds. One of Lisa’s favourite areas is the kitchen with its striking combination of veined marble, stainless steel and warm timber finishes. “Before the dirt had been turned, I found these fantastic chandeliers that we had to have,” recalls Lisa. “They are shaped like grapes and so the vineyard house’s journey began.”
Written by April Ossington
Photography by Robert Hamer
Originally from Grand Designs Australia Volume 4 Issue 1