Both Shelter and Sculpture – Merricks House by Wood Marsh
Mornington Peninsula, VIC, Australia

Photography Jean-Luc Laloux & Peter Bennetts (aerial)
Architecture Wood Marsh
Words Bronwyn Marshall
- Project Feature - The Local Project

Softly engaging with its site, Merricks House navigates its underfoot contours through a gestural sweeping motion and a deliberately restrained use of materiality. Wood Marsh combines a contrasting approach of smooth and textured surfaces and forms to create a residence that acts as both shelter and sculpture.

Touching down in Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, Merricks House is a subtle ode to its site and the softly undulating contours that comprise it. In its sweeping motions, the resulting home sees a series of curved elements come together, as both a place of protection from the elements and one to watch said elements from its generously proportioned outlooks. Celebrating both the solid and the void, the formation is a series of gestural experiences, both in the whole and the spaces between. The select materiality is deliberately restrained, in tune with the architects’ approach and also as a nod to the simplicity of the home’s setting. The strength and hardiness of its parts also stands as testament against its coastal climate and represents the sense of endurance needed for the area. Wood Marsh brings a considered and measured approach to propose a residence of radiating arcs, gently responding to the site.

Taking cues from the Australian landscape, the comprising materiality and palette sees a natural and muted approach, where contrasting charcoal sits against off-white elements and timber is injected for warmth.

Appearing from behind its established landscape hedge, the curved form presents itself on site as part structure, part sculpture as the snaking driveway allows visitors to ascend upon the house through an established vineyard. Two tall rammed earth walls form the main central feature of the home, offering a stabilising spine element from which all functions and ancillary spaces attach. Slices into these core masonry walls offer glimpses toward the ocean and across the vines. Taking cues from the Australian landscape, the comprising materiality and palette sees a natural and muted approach, where contrasting charcoal sits against off-white elements and timber is injected for warmth. Allowing the home to open up and adapt to its environment, key sustainable principles are embedded into the design from the increased thermal mass, onsite wastewater treatment, and rainwater harvesting to the cross-ventilation and solar attenuation and control. All aspects of comfort and endurance have been considered.

Merricks House is home to six bedrooms and is intended as the ideal backdrop to its growing family. To accommodate the predicted fluctuations of the brief over time, the spaces needed to offer a level of flexibility, while also offering a low level of maintenance requirements due to its location. This approach, in turn, informed the materiality and composition on site. As a popular weekend and holiday destination, the Mornington Peninsula contains many occasional homes, of which Merricks House is one very residence. In designing the home and its consideration as a functional and robust home, facilities for property managers also needed to be considered and integrated. Radiating from the one central corridor, the home is divided into two wings of three bedrooms with a convening living space at the centre. Each of the wings are access from small openings, allowing for a sense of separation and privacy when fully occupied.

Celebrating both the solid and the void, the formation is a series of gestural experiences, both in the whole and the spaces between.

Merricks House both peacefully and poetically engages with its site and offers a restorative place of recharge connection to its site. Wood Marsh has conjured moments of reflection and connection through restraint and created an appropriate sculptural addition to this enviable site.

Merricks House both peacefully and poetically engages with its site and offers a restorative place of recharge connection to its site.

The select materiality is deliberately restrained, both in tune with the architect’s known approach, and also as a nod to the simplicity of the home’s setting

Published 2 November, 2020
Photography  Jean-Luc Laloux & Peter Bennetts (aerial)
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