First Lessons House
Ray Dinh Architecture
Portsea, VIC, Australia
First Lessons House by Ray Dinh Architecture sits low amongst the existing myrtle and tea-trees, at the back corner of the site, overlooking the Portsea Lagoon and Wildlife Reserve. The house is an attempt to get the basics right – to create a house that responds to its context and the owner’s daily habits.
The owners wanted “a house that allows for as much outdoor space as possible, and opens up to the garden”. The challenge was to retain the native bush character of the landscape, while meeting the clients brief. The L-shaped house is carefully sited to take advantage of the northern sun, tree canopy shade, existing contours, prevailing winds and views to the lagoon.
The landscape marks the entry – the cars are left behind as you cross the garden to the entry pergola, which has a bench and outdoor shower, and solid blackbutt door. The more informal entry is through the deck, where the sliding door are usually open, allowing the living spaces to spill outside.
To balance budget and brief, the entire roof and back of the house is made of standard timber frame and corrugated cladding. The costs were then focused on detail of the northern elevation and the view. Charred blackbutt, concrete and corrugated iron were chosen as robust, earthy materials that are softened by the natural light and landscape.
Large sliding doors disappear behind walls to offer an uninterrupted view and seamless transition to the garden. On rainy days, the doors can be left open to allow the house to breathe, and the familiar sound of rain on a tin roof can be heard. Over these doors, high windows with charred timber battens filter the northern sun and highlight views to the treetops.
The bedrooms face east towards the morning sun. These rooms are dfeliberately basic -providing a bed, robe and view to the garden. The Rumpus is located at the end of the house. Facing north, it frames views to the Lagoon, and its location encourages mischief and separation for the main living space.
The clients envisioned the house becoming a central meeting point to be shared and borrowed by family and friends. A place for retreat, for BBQs and celebrations of all sorts. The five bedroom house that emerged from the brief has already hosted family Christmas dinner, New Years celebrations (sit down dinner for 45 people on the deck), their sons 12th birthday party and many family weekend get-togethers. This is a social house, where the inhabitants can counterbalance their urban lives with the pace and beauty of the Lagoon side landscape.