From the architect. Mount Macedon House was a significant and challenging design opportunity, with a complex site, strict bushfire protection regulations and specific client brief all playing an important role in the final project outcome.
The site chosen in Macedon was long and narrow, but surrounded by trees and native life with stunning north-easterly views. There had never been a house or building on the site, so there were all the initial infrastructure challenges that a rural property like this brings.
Obviously, there were some tricky aspects to the site with a significant slope, and there did have to be a bit of rock taken out which was redistributed around the site. But this was not a deal breaker by any stretch, and the build was able to press on at a steady pace.
As a geographical feature, Mount Macedon rises to 1,001 metres above sea level and is best known for its collection of 19th-century gardens and extravagant large homes.
With views across the bushland, this home is set on a long, and narrow site, which say the architects, was one reason why the dwelling was elevated – that is, to provide the magnificent views.
Therefore, this configuration required a balance between ensuring the site not be over-excavated, but to emerge gently from the landscape, almost giving it the appearance of a spaceship that has landed on a distant planet.
As part of the fire regulations, the corten cladding or ‘Atmospheric Corrosion Resistant Steel’ cladding as it’s also known, is wrapped around the dwelling like a protective shawl to provide bushfire screening to the glazing. This cladding can also be opened and closed as required.
The cladding is also hinged and perforated to protect the windows in case of a bushfire. 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.
Other factors that made this build out of the ordinary apart from the significant fall across the site, was the 'Bal 40' bushfire rating (in other words, very high), which has quite a few conditions, particularly regarding setbacks from the east and best boundaries.
With these site parameters, along with the fall across the site north to south, the architects decided very early in the design process that the dwelling would need to be elevated at some point as to immerse itself amongst the surrounding views and vegetation, whilst also providing on grade access if required. It was important to the owner as well that the site not be over-excavated, but rather emerge gently out of the existing landscape.
Therefore, the elevated form essentially grew out of this.
While the bedrooms and study are at the back, the house was designed with extra screening along the east to give some visual protection from the neighbours.
On the other side is the living space and the kitchen which were designed to be bathed in natural light from early morning all the way up until the late afternoon.
To finish off the vista-rich theme, a rooftop deck providing 360 degree views of the beautiful Macedon ranges rounds off this unique home.