Merricks House / Wood/Marsh

© Jean Luc Laloux

Architects: Wood/Marsh Pty Ltd Architecture
Location: Mornington Peninsula, Victoria,
Structural Engineers: John Gardner
Services: NES
Project Area: 650 sqm
Project Year: 2009
Photographs: Jean Luc Laloux, David Goss

The site overlooking the Mornington Peninsula is approached by a long winding drive through an established vineyard. On approach, the house gives little away, presenting an abstract, modest façade as it appears from behind a break in a large hedge.

floor plan

Entering between tall earth walls, a long corridor curves beyond view as the timber ceiling drops into the distance. Upon reaching the lowest point of the corridor, large windows slice through the earth walls to reveal a dramatic view south across the vines to the ocean beyond, to the north a dark strip of water cuts through a courtyard reflecting the sky.

Further along the central spine, the ceiling arcs up and the view unfolds as two large living spaces intersect the corridor. A staircase ascends beyond, and appears to hover above the vines. A discreet opening accesses a further volume beyond. Containing main bedroom, ensuite and private terrace, the elevated space affords views over the hilltop to the valley beyond.

© Jean Luc Laloux

Primarily a holiday and weekend residence, three bedroom wings are accessed through discreet openings in the central corridor. Allowing autonomy between visitors, this layout assures the house doesn’t appear empty when not fully occupied.

The brief called for a large, flexible family home of a high quality with a sense of solidity and materials that age well with minimal upkeep. The scope of work also included building new facilities for the property managers.


Six bedrooms accommodate a growing family with a range of spaces that can be enjoyed in differing weather conditions. As such a range of terraces and courtyards appear between, or within the timber volumes, providing varying degrees of shelter. A basement cellar provides storage for wine including that produced on the property.

A restrained palette of textures and colours echo the burnt timbers and sun-bleached earth of a harsh Australian environment, contrasting against the verdant manicured vineyard. The bold charcoal and off-white exterior gives way to a warmer more neutral interior palette to complement the client’s substantial art collection.

© Jean Luc Laloux

The structural engineer and rammed-earth contractor were involved early in the design process to ensure the seamless integration of services, openings and frameless glazing with the rammed earth. A landscape plan was developed that, when implemented will add further complexity to the act of concealing and revealing views through and across the landscape.

Timber pergolas and external blinds are used as screening devices, mediating sunlight as it moves across the house. Thickened walls allow deeply recessed windows, shaded from the summer sun and provide opportunity to recess window frames to achieve a thermal break.

© Jean Luc Laloux

Natural materials with a low embodied energy rating are used throughout the building. All spaces are cross ventilated and each building volume can be heated and cooled independently depending on how the house is occupied. The building utilises the insulation properties of rammed earth.

The property is not connected to mains water, all rain water is harvested and used throughout the house. Water collected in the dams is used for irrigation. All sewerage is treated on site.

Cite: "Merricks House / Wood/Marsh" 25 Nov 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 29 May 2015. <>
  • up_today_arch

    Fantasticly clear solution about rounded house… From every angle…

  • R Goldschmidt

    My first opinion of this house was: Hmm… other office – home, but after I view the rest of the pictures I change fast my opinion. Maybe the kitchen is more looking like one office. But the rest of the home is well…great. I really like the proportion of this volume, the material combination, the shape of this building and it strong lines. But the most impresive thing is the atention to detail of the Wood/Marsh. Really bravo! I enjoy the the pictures withe the table and pool, living. Very god job! And I’m just wondering, what kind of filling had the architect when he just visit and imagine the home on the site?

  • CJCM

    With very few exceptions, round and curvilinear forms are harder to build. Is there any reason (structural, solar, economic) why this house is round? or is it just another arbitrary choice by an owner.

  • tsep

    it needs some trees, both for reducing the amount of heat those walls will store and for greater depth through shadows.