Steadily settling into the contours of a cliffside in Mornington Peninsula—a small town south-east of Melbourne with just over 900 residents—the sinuous three-story dwelling hangs onto the curved landscape in a neighborhood with predominantly traditional English cottages and timber box houses.
Two concentric volumes encased in limestone treated with a natural clamshell pattern are asymmetrically stacked on top of each other. Both the exterior and twisted geometry are allusions to the natural environment. The encrusted surface is a reference to the local coral reefs dating back to the Jurassic periods while the torqued geometry looks like two basalt rocks sliding against each other from a volcanic eruption—which formed the bluffs of this peninsula. The cliffsides’ geology contains both limestone and basalt.
Oriented from the North to the South, the design responds to the landscape due to applied mapping, monitoring and observation to construct a project determined entirely by its site. The eventual form provides shade from the descending western sun while opening up to the ocean to let in the sunrise.
The interiors are sympathetic to the house’s siting, allowing its inhabitants to feel enveloped in their elements and experience the impact of the location. The uppermost level contains the master bedroom wing and living room area which is separated by a timber and stone clad staircase. The entire level enjoys views to the coast as well as a south-facing deck accessible from the living room. The ground level story has two entry points: the double-height entrance to the west and a private eastern entry that meets the circular, sunken courtyard leading to another living space and three self-contained guestrooms wrapped by curved, timber-lined hulls. Below this is a subterranean basement with a wine cellar and plant room.
The materials and finishes are deliberately lush and dark to contrast the bright Australian sun. Partnering with long-time interiors collaborator Hecker Guthrie and stylist Simone Haag, the palette appeals to the senses by continuing the textural limestone with interior columns and floors and contrasting it with stained charcoal timber partitions and wall treatments, ash grey marble counters and walls, and oxidized brass accents.