High Noon, Wonwondah
The house is set in a stark landscape of harsh light, parched sandy soils and extreme summer heat. It is isolated. Unlike the sprawling vernacular of so many rural Australian buildings, the design strategy is one of containment within a tight, cube-like form. The house braces itself against the elements to provide refuge from what is at times, an inhospitable environment.
Built to replace a humble caravan and lean-to that previously occupied the site, the design strives to retain the simplicity that was so appealing about this earlier dwelling. The spaces are compact and functional and there is an emphasis on the use of robust materials and minimal detailing. In keeping with the rural setting, the materials chosen are deliberately raw, with steel, cement blockwork and Australian timbers used both internally (Victorian ash) and externally (spotted gum).
The planning has a concentric quality, with living spaces revolving around the central stair and the slot-like panoramic windows wrapping around the perimeter walls. A slender grid of steel framing extends from the house on both east and west sides. This is designed to support large sun shades, protecting the most exposed elevations and expanding the living spaces into these shaded volumes. The crow’s nest balcony on the east provides elevated views of the Grampians while lifting the inhabitants above the sandy ground.
Although modest in scale, the design aims to create the sense that it is larger than it really is. The central stair acts as a spatial divider between the open plan living area and the kitchen. Large full-height sliding panels are used on both levels, allowing spaces to be separated or flow into one another. The spatial layering created by this effect increases the sense of scale of the dwelling and allows the inhabitants more flexibility in how it is used.
Architects: Bianca Scaife, Daniel Cooper, Cait Phillips & Mark Gregory.
Structural Engineer: Lowe Consulting Engineers.
Builder: A J Pollock Pty Ltd.
Photographer: Anna Fairbank.
Awards: High Noon, Wonwondah received a High Commendation in the Kevin Borland Masonry Award, Think Brick Awards, 2018.