Mindalong House is a humble home that has a complex relationship with space. The residence, designed by Paul Wakelam Architect – A Workshop, is located on a semi-rural block on the edge of John Forrest National Park in Western Australia. It is from this hill-bound landscape that the home derives its deceptive form.
The home’s entrance is found underneath a large Mari tree, taking the form of a screen door with a protective roof that juts out to greet visitors. Walking through, visitors find themselves facing the hill beyond, and between home and hill lies an expansive decked pool area. It is only at this point – coming face-to-face with the raised pool and decking – that the visitor realises they are themselves standing on a raised plinth. This is the first clue to Mindalong House’s wry game of warped perception.
It is not just one’s sense of height and landscape elevation that Mindalong House plays with. The climatic regression of the home also raises questions of what counts as internal and what counts as external to the residence.
A communal gathering area at the centre of the site is abutted not only by the main residence, but by two shed-like pavilions. This trio of structures is connected by the substantial timber decking space. The two pavilions – described as “passive light towers” – were conceived by Paul Wakelam as a collective “cathedral of light”. Not only do these towers provide an extension of and bridge between the internal spaces, they also regulate the interior climate all the way from their exterior vantage point.
“The timber decks exist at the threshold, and extend from these dispersed living spaces, allowing access throughout the building,” says Paul Wakelam in a design statement.
“The communal gathering area breathes through two passive light towers, regulating the internal climate. The body is continually being turned to open up to the hills beyond.
“[Access to] the sleeping pavilion is through the external communal space, [which is] protected by the court of native plants and raised pool plinth. Views of the horizon, punctuated by existing granite rock formations and scattered trees, penetrate to the heart of the central living spaces.
“The timber deck circulation allows different perspectives of the landscape and proximity of the creek at the north-western edge of property. All [access] to pavilions is via deep roof overhangs, giving a freedom of space and extending the internal floor out to blur the threshold of internal and external.
“The poetics of Mindalong House [comprise] a strong shed with sculptural entrance by day, and a series of light boxes in the landscape by night.”