Flinders House, Mornington Peninsula, Australia
Wood Marsh Architecture

A serene, sculptural retreat from windswept and hostile surrounds, this house on the Mornington Peninsula, in Australia’s southeast, is a pure product of, and response to, its context. Nestled beneath a ridgeline on a 75-acre tract of land that falls towards the wild waters of Bass Strait, its form rises boldly out of the gnarled rolling terrain to present a graceful yet resilient front to the ocean storms and high winds that batter the area, while embracing the beauty of its sea and pastoral views.

Programmatically the house needed to function as a generous and flexible retreat that would equally embrace a nuclear family and expand to house relatives and friends, all the while accommodating a significant art collection and playing host to large gatherings. Thus it was split into two abstract forms, which can be closed off from one other, allowing the family to occupy a single wing, or united to function as a whole. Their curvaceous forms embrace the sea views, but also carve out protected external spaces in-between, harnessing alternate views of the rural setting, existing trees, and courtyard/pool area, and shaping contemplative internal spaces within.

A restrained material palette references the rural, coastal environment, both texturally and tonally. Services have been split across the two wings, creating zones to minimise energy use. Mass construction, with a wall thickness of nearly half a metre, significantly insulates the home, and careful positioning of recessed, low E, double-glazing controls sun paths through the interior to minimise heat gain in summer and maximize it in winter, thereby creating a stable living environment year round. The revegetation of the former pastoral land has established more than 40 acres of native plants on the property, and rainwater collected in two 100,000 litre tanks services both the house and gardens.

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