Text description provided by the architects. Pt Leo Estate is a building that explores the possibilities of structural concrete design to create sculptural form that synthesizes landscape, art and architecture within an innovative gesture that celebrates its sense of place and program. The client’s vision was to share with the public their private collection of large-scale sculpture on a coastal site featuring an established vineyard and panoramic ocean views. Accompanying this was a desire for a hospitality experience that celebrated their wine production as well as local produce.
The client wanted a building that was engaging, evocative and that would establish a dialogue with the artistic community. It could comfortably sit on the international stage whilst still maintaining an Australian identity that celebrated its contextual environment. Purposefully located at its heart and perched on the highest elevation of the 135 hectare rural Merrick’s property, the public on arrival immediately engage with the vineyard and a truly Australian landscape.
The underlying principle is the synergy between landscape, art and architecture. The forecourt is a sculptural gesture and an artistic experience. Its curvaceous form is an abstract interpretation of wine pouring from a bottle and the organic cycle of the wine harvest. A bold landscaped gesture and the fluid walls pay homage to the curvature of Inge King’s iconic sculpture located at the centre of the forecourt.
As you transition through the forecourt the built form emerges from the ground, holding back the extended vineyard and concealing the building programme and views beyond. In time long tendrils of vine will cascade over to veil and anchor the building, reinforcing the designs response to site and context. The cracked granite forecourt surface, together with the asymmetrical placement of the single Bottle Tree is evocative of the Australian rugged, eroded and cracked landscape. The tree is a living sculptural object within the forecourt.
The building’s radial plan, derived from the forecourt, organises and separates the three briefed zones of the Entry Arbour, Cellar Door & Restaurants. This sweeping form articulates each area without the need for walls or partitions within a large open space and results in an internal experience where the total building mass never reveals itself. In so, adhering to the client’s desire that each function operate concurrently with equal emphasis.
From the inside and outside the simple lines of the building seem to fall away which diminishes the actual scale and perception of the built form and its relationship to the site. This effect also affords greater site lines to the vineyard, rural and costal views.
The sculpture park itself wraps around the built form, creating an intermediary in the view between the architecture, vineyard or ocean and showcasing over 50 sculptures from local and international artists.