Text description provided by the architects. Our rural site is located in Victoria’s High Country, Australia. The Ancona Valley is characterised by rolling pasture and river flats set to a backdrop of surrounding mountain ranges. At 450 metres above sea level, winters are cooler and summer temperatures higher than average for Victoria. Sheep and cattle graze this idyllic and picturesque landscape, a perfect place to retreat and rejuvenate. The romantic notion of a country escape spirited the purchase of this blank canvas property, the same promise informing the style, arrangement of structures, material compositions and integration of garden surround, within the existing rural setting.
This assemblage of elements now occupies the highest point of the 50-acre site. Here once stood an open framed hayshed, later to be enclosed and converted by previous owners, to serve as a modest weekend retreat. Retaining in part these humble fragments, a new and inter-connected series of agriculturally inspired pavilions have sprung. These are clustered about a centrally protected garden court and pool, they nestle within a newly defined garden which now covers approximately 5 acres of the property.
The fragmentation of an otherwise large singular building form into purpose driven pavilions, deliberately thwarts any possibility of them overpowering their surrounds. New garden elements penetrate the spaces left between the structures, ultimately entwining the dwelling and garden as one. There are four main pavilion structures, the centrally located two storey core provides casual living/dining, kitchen, family bedroom accommodation and a mezzanine studio. Buried within its walls lies the original structure of the hayshed, its overall form still legible.
A steel garden arbour extends from this to a new guest studio. Further afield and flanking these two buildings is a utility barn, housing farm machinery, hobby studio and workshop spaces. Completing the building cluster is a further stand-alone pavilion, purposed for entertaining, it offers the strongest connection of internal living space to the garden and pool area through extensive atrium scale glazing. A nod is given here to the rural barn typology which prevails throughout the valley. This is played out through the adoption of a continuous, rough sawn battened screen, encircling the upper portion of structure. When viewed from afar, this interpretive barn form skims seemingly unsupported across the top of the newly established garden below.
Each pavilion serves a purpose, and each exude a sense of individualism as a result. Our material pallet throughout is drawn directly from the regions farm vocabulary, reinterpreted and adapted in a modernist manner. Here, Natural stone, galvanised iron and rough sawn recycled timbers prevail. There has be no attempt to make bold architectural statements at our Ancona residence, rather and more importantly for us, it is to simply facilitate the manner in which we choose to live, engaging with this rural setting, engendering a sense of ‘other-worldliness’ and escapism.
A place to refresh, replenish and reinvigorate.