Herbert and Howes
Deepdene, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
Sitting more than comfortably within its heritage context in Deepdene, Sunset House presents a modern presence on a generous corner block. Drawing inspiration from the forms and materials of the surrounding heritage homes, its architecture presents a soft, yet bold contemporary take on the traditional period home. On a gently sloping corner site in one of Melbourne’s most prized, heritage protected suburbs, Sunset House is a highly liveable, new home that is well-attuned to the needs of its owners. A home that is a distinct and welcoming presence in the streetscape, conceived as a place where this young, active family can readily fulfil their love of entertaining family and friends. Matthew Herbert, principal of Herbert and Howes, has delivered a well-considered design that is nothing short of spectacular, speaking volumes about the practice’s long-held philosophy: “To create timeless and accessible homes that provide a respectful blend of our vision and the unique personalities and needs of our clients.” Indeed, for these particular clients, Sunset House was all about liveability and a strong connection to the outside. True to its namesake, the site’s western-facing position was inherent to the design of this home from the outset, says Matt. “The site has beautiful west-facing views over the park, so we wanted to capture those from as many aspects of the home as possible, especially the colourful sunsets. That’s where the magic happens, and of course where the name originated.” Creating that much-desired connection to outdoor spaces, the main living, dining and outdoor entertaining areas pay homage to the beauty and tranquillity of Deepdene’s sunsets, and blur the lines between indoors and out. Of course, from a practical viewpoint, given the western orientation of the two public faces of the home, a series of operable, external louvres were adopted to provide much-needed sun control in the hot summer months, as well as visual privacy when required.
A further inspiration for its design, according to Matt comes from, “the forms and materials of the surrounding heritage homes, resulting in a quiet, yet strong contemporary take on the traditional period home.” To this end, the well-conceived material palette is stunning in its simplicity. Sunset House presents a restrained grey palette of handcrafted Petersen bricks, offering a breathtaking display from all aspects. “There is nothing quite like the organic nature of Petersen bricks. They are a favourite of ours and we love their irregular shape and size. The uneven surfaces create a tactile surface that is unmatched,” comments Matt. The feature brickwork is particularly striking on the two distinct, gabled forms which stretch and step along the length of the site, highlighting the form and presence of the home, and creating a warm welcome from the street. The rickwork, combined with cool black steel, provides a crisp and contrasting accent, all offset by a simple, grey render. In a clear nod to what is a signature of Herbert and Howes, the architecture is superbly fused with the landscape. At this, Sunset House excels. The Design Team has connected the two distinct gabled forms with the side garden’s inviting swimming pool, which can be seen from almost every room of the home, and is an inviting presence for guests, greeting them at the front gate and invoking an instant sense of welcome and calm. The pinnacle of the home is a second outdoor area in the form of a raised terrace that is easily accessed from the pool zone, the main dining and living areas, and the recreation zone below. The elevation of the terrace is where the occupants can most enjoy the stunning views of the sunset across the green sports ground to the west. Continuing the strong connection to landscape, the green plantings selected for Sunset House are a vibrant contrast, yet perfect complement, to the material palette, and will provide spectacularly changing results across seasons which will become increasingly apparent as the garden matures. There is no doubt that Sunset House is a perfect fusion of architecture, interiors and landscapes. The Herbert and Howes team is thrilled with the end result, and has delivered an easy-living, forever home that the occupants will enjoy for many years to come.