This project is a stunning response to a BAL-40 bushland site, with the home sitting high along the side of Mount Macedon.
From the architect:
Our client and his family had been living in the inner suburbs of Melbourne for many years before deciding on a 'country change'. Keen on a slower pace of life, they'd been looking for a site for some time that was surrounded by nature in a secluded setting, yet still within a commutable drive to Melbourne. Any sort of view was a bonus.
With the project site tucked in quite high along the side of Mount Macedon, there are sweeping views to the north and far east which were critical to our early thinking.
Other factors included the significant fall across the site, and the 'BAL-40' bushfire rating, which has significant conditions, particularly regarding setbacks from the east and west boundaries. With the property being somewhat long and narrow, our preliminary building footprint as required by our bushfire rating, essentially didn't change to what we ended up with. With these site parameters, along with the fall across the site north to south, it was decided very early in the design process that the dwelling would need to be elevated at some point as to immerse itself among the surrounding views and vegetation, while also providing on grade access if required.
It was also important to the owner that the site not be over-excavated, but rather emerge gently out of the existing landscape. The elevated and light form essentially grew out of this. The Corten cladding, which was designed bespoke for this project by the architects, wraps around the dwelling, providing the required bushfire screening to glazing and the ability to be opened and closed as needed.
Behind this rich, earthy material are the more discrete sleeping and study spaces which are towards the rear of the dwelling, allowing for the living and social spaces to be read as far more transparent and exposed, breaking out towards the north and north-east elevations. Screening along the east provides some visual protection from the neighbouring properties without compromising any of the views or natural light, which fills the living space and kitchen from morning until late afternoon. A rooftop deck is the final touch, providing 360 views of the tranquil landscape.
The biggest challenge was the bushfire regulations that were applied to the site. There had not previously been a dwelling on the property, and any new build was subject to BAL-40. This meant there were some very stringent requirements, particularly regarding windows, which needed to be fully screened at no greater aperture than 3mm.
Collaborating with the client, we developed bespoke Corten cladding panels that are hinged and perforated to protect the windows when required. These are fixed to mechanical operators that allow the screens to be remotely opened and closed as required. Similar protective screens operate to the northern glazing to the living areas, however these discretely slide into hidden cavities and are only used as required.