Boldly Familiar – Bellbrae House by Wiesebrock Architecture
Bellbrae, VIC, Australia

Photography Ben Hosking
Words Bronwyn Marshall
Structural Engineer Clive Steele Partners

Responding to its coastally rugged locale, Bellbrae House emerges as two distinct pavilions connected through a common dedicated outdoor deck space. Wiesebrock Architects has combined robust and durable sensibilities in proposing the forever home that compresses and expands as needed.

Enviably located between Victoria’s Angleseaand Torquay, the house replaces the previous dilapidated dwelling that sat on the same siting. After uncovering a myriad of concerning structural issues, the decision to switch from restoration to replacement was an early one and resultingly a clear vision emerged for the site. Taking reference from the area’s rural vernacular, elements of agricultural architectural forms are combined with a refined and considered approach. As a home imagined to expand and contract as needed over time, two distinct and bold pavilion forms outline the envelope of the building. Sitting within the footprint of the existing house, the two forms are connected by an outdoor deck space that binds the enclosed functional elements and offers a sense of relief from the overall mass. Wiesebrock Architecture combines a financial, environmental and socially conscious approach in designing the home as an enduring destination for its family.

As a home imagined to expand and contract as needed over time, two distinct and bold pavilion forms outline the envelope of the building.

Built by Sherriff Constructions and with engineering by Clive Steele Partners, Bellbrae House is comprised of three distinct elements – two encasing forms and an outdoor space. Viewed initially on approach to the home, the main living volume allows the owners to compress their lives into the one-bedroom form, with its own living, dining, kitchen and support spaces, and feel connected to each other and to focus outward to the site and its many fortunate aspects. The compartmentalisation of the home also allows for a conserved approach to energy consumption and ensuring minimal waste and maintenance. The second volume is imagined as the expanded option, where visiting family can stay and have their own preparation and cooking facilities. This space is also used as a working space where the owners can concentrate on their study, as needed. The third element is the outdoor deck, which is a moment in itself. Its framed features offer a portal to the vistas of the valley and is the main outdoor entertaining and recreation space while also signalling as an entry gesture.

The informality of the materiality is deliberate and references an appropriate response to the context Bellbrae House sits amongst. Continuing the common thread of the home as a low maintenance, considered and conscientious way of living, each comprising element needed to align in principle and reinforce one another. The resulting forms are clad in galvanised metal sheeting, with voids and openings cut into and expressed through the use of timber. As a play on contrasts, the iron sheeting offers a cool robustness, while the timber is both textural and inviting. Internally, the spaces are wrapped in ply sheeting, with a matched tonality in the timber flooring, which then emphasises the sense of space and an ingrained cohesion between principles and the outcome.

As a play on contrasts, the iron sheeting offers a cool robustness, while the timber is both textural and inviting.

Bellbrae House engages and replies to its unique site through its architectural response, and it openly welcomes a conversation with its surrounds. Wiesebrock Architecture has carefully conjured a home to endure, imbedded in meaning and with the capacity to respond to the needs of its inhabitants.

Published 22 January, 2021
Photography  Ben Hosking
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