Weaving Time and Place – Bicheno by Ancher Architecture Office

Words by Bronwyn Marshall
Photography by Adam Gibson
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Building on its historic past, Bicheno extends the relevance of an existing fisherman’s cottage, which is interpreted through a contemporary lens. Ancher Architecture Office responds not only to the unique and remote location of the home but to a fusion of the heritage and newer elements, ensuring the home feels both connected and deliberate.

In its coastal positioning, Bicheno takes its name from its location. Originally built in the 1930s, the home was home to a local fisherman, and the ideal placement near the coast reflects a deep connection and respect for the sea. The home today retains the simplicity expected of its time, and the new works are inspired by a similar sensibility. In preparing the home for its next chapter, an effort to retain the essence and character of the original home is combined with an appropriateness that reflects how we live today. The main formal gesture involves the opening of the closed mass to create an uninterrupted flow-through between the internal volume and the surrounding landscape. As a balance to the small openings of the original, Ancher Architecture Office’s new elements take up the full height of the gabled form, allowing a better connection to the natural elements.

A mostly natural palette defines both the exterior and interior works and becomes a celebration of timber.

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Looking out along the East Coast of Tasmania, the extension to Bicheno is built by Ponting Builders and retains a similar proportioned form to its previous self. Affectionately also referred to as Wavesong Cottage, the undeniable bond between the home, its owners and the ocean creates an interesting and layered legacy that needed to continue into the new. As a holiday home for its current owners, the idea of retreat and disconnecting were key. Embedding a sense of comfort through texture and layering ensures a familiarity is retained in the process.

There is a similar warmth and comfort that extends onward and across the two chapters of the home, bringing with it a sense of enclosure with the structure as a safe harbour amongst the elements. A mostly natural palette defines both the exterior and interior works and becomes a celebration of timber – a material traditionally found on beaches from washed up boats and used to populate the coastal areas. Extending on from this narrative, the original form is extruded to maintain a connection to the past and to the known rural vernacular of the area. In maintaining a similar scale, the openness of the interior and how it invites views of the surrounding landscape inward ensure the home feels naturally placed.

There is a similar warmth and comfort that extends onward and across the two chapters of the home, bringing with it a sense of enclosure, with the structure as a safe harbour amongst the elements.

Through its respectful reinterpretation of the past, Bicheno opens and expands to allow multi-generational occupancy throughout the year. Ancher Architecture Office extends the vestige of an important piece of history and element of connection between the client and the site, creating a new iteration of an ongoing narrative.