Text description provided by the architects. The brief for House in Silhouette was for a large family home on a sloping 1.6 acre site in Berwick. As Melbourne’s suburbs have grown outward, Berwick now sits on the edge of the city. Not rural, yet not suburban, the subject site is a low density lot, suitable for an equestrian enthusiast or a hobby farmer.
In order to respect this context, the design was envisaged as a contemporary and durable Australian house with strong visual references to a country farmhouse. From the street, the home presents as two sharply outlined gable forms connected by secondary recessive links. The bright white painted brick gables are accentuated by a dark, expressed steel extrusion. This play of dark and light,forward and recessive, enables the home to sit comfortably with the landscape without dominating it.
Central to the planning of the home was an inherent need for flexibility. The home needed to operate in two distinct modes. Firstly as a luxurious yet efficient home for a couple approaching retirement. The house also needed to accommodate the extended multi-generational family who would often stay during holidays. To achieve this, a gabled wing containing 3 bedrooms and a bathroom can be completely closed off via sliding doors when not in use.
House in Silhouette was also designed to give the inhabitants an inherent flexibility to fully occupy the rooms in a way which would give them the full satisfaction and sentiment of home. The idea was to enable active homemaking over time, rather than prescribing a space that would limit the choices of art or artefacts for the family. This flexibility extended to the consideration of decorations for Christmas celebrations, which are a very important aspect for the clients.
Integration with the landscape was also a vital component of the design brief. Internal rooms were orientated to capitalise on an expansive green landscape to the east, whilst ensuring west facing glazing was minimized and protected. The design has ensured that all rooms have a leafy outlook that allows the occupants to fully appreciate their surrounds. To ensure the east-orientated family room received adequate light, a light court is provided opposite the meals area.
This also provides another opportunity for a garden aspect midway along the gabled form. The use of bluestone in the landscape features reference the local stone that was quarried from Berwick in its earlier days. House in Silhouette is a piece of architecture that directly responds to its context and client brief. In an area that is dominated by excessive, faux-heritage houses. House in Silhouette demonstrates how architecture can provide a sense of place to the street and suburb, whilst also providing a family home set in the landscape.