On a 10-acre property in semi-rural Victoria, this feat of modern architecture celebrates not only unique custom design, but also the spectacular natural bush setting
LOCATION Semi-rural Victoria
DATE COMPLETED December 2013
Piermont is an innovative family home that embraces its surrounding landscape and offers its residents a better relationship with the environment and the land.
The original home on this 4ha site in regional Victoria was a modest weatherboard cottage that turned its back on the location, hindering the family’s relationship to it. With time and non-restrictive clients on their side, architect and director Tony Vella, and the team at Rachcoff Vella Architecture, were able to get creative and “unleash their ideas”. This architectural delight then became the design firm’s flagship project over the next five years.
The sculptured forms of this home’s sweeping walls incorporate three distinct wings that separate the living zones for the family of six that reside here. With four children under 12 (plus a pet dog, Frampton), the space for individuality was important.
“All occupants have at least one specifically designed space in the house, allowing them to individually, as well as collectively, experience a custom-designed outcome — something that was important to our clients,” says Tony.
Spanning a single storey, there is a wing for the parents, one for the kids and a central “glass pavilion” encompassing the main kitchen, dining and living rooms. All the zones are connected by a central gallery as well as the open entrance spaces, plus there is a communal study and powder room.
Tony saw in this property a site with an ideal topography and a perfect natural setting — a project blessed with vast opportunities. “The house truly embraces its context and creates a unique environment for the clients to enjoy their newfound relationship with the site,” he says.
The land’s natural contours informed the positioning of the home and influenced its subtle curved form. Passive solar design principles were important and key to this was the orientation of the house. During winter, the low sun is welcomed into the residence while large eaves ensure the interiors are protected in the summer months. To further guarantee the home operates sustainably, heavy insulation has been incorporated throughout as well as a solar hot water system, 80,000L rainwater tank, shading devices, low VOC paints and insulated hydronic slab heating.
Large windows throughout the home embrace the country setting, and the huge timber box frames provide the perfect seating for looking out. The glass pavilion that juts out features the kitchen and living area. Despite the transparency of the open room and the fact it’s surrounded by glass and cool-toned, dark tiles and marble benchtops, when combined with its furniture, furnishings and a cosy fireplace it creates a space that is comfortable and has an inviting atmosphere.
The materials used are natural and imperfect, and were intentionally chosen to ensure the home doesn’t feel out of place in its country setting. “They were chosen to prevent the building from feeling lost within its immediate context,” says Tony. They include spotted gum timber, sand and cement renders, bluestone and zinc cladding that would age and patina in the most natural and beautiful way. Also responsible for the interior design, Rachcoff Vella has created stunning interiors with carefully considered colour schemes, joinery and furniture planned to reflect the natural surrounds. The joinery is immaculate and the stunning timber panels cover walls and floor for an organic, yet polished feel. Carefully selected furniture pieces, used sparingly, make a statement in the home and the overall look and feel is of a modern home that pays respect to its regional Australian bush surrounds.
Tony says that being aware of the home’s surrounding environment and its overall character was paramount in all decisions. A cohesive look and feel, as well as ensuring the interiors weren’t “over styled”, were key in the interior design process. In this sense the building works almost like a blank canvas for the family and their possessions and artwork will make their personal mark on over time.
Tony says the design team and the homeowners worked closely on many of the specific details in what was an “extremely engaging project”. This was the best way to get such stunning results and a home that has truly been designed to suit its occupants. “The clients were heavily involved in many specific details, such as the 3m-wide front door and illuminated door handle, the school desk library, the custom wardrobes, just to name a few,” says Tony.
“Piermont was constructed to be a warm, inviting home that is flexible enough to cater for a growing family and to allow family members to engrave their imprint on the house and the overall property masterplan in the years to come,” says Tony.
With each space well considered and beautifully crafted, the home is filled with light, curved designs and textures and the five-year journey bringing this project to life was a joy for the homeowners and project team involved. The family plan to evolve their property further; the creation of this exquisite home was only the first step — and it’s clear they’re off to a great start.
Architect Rachcoff Vella Architecture
Interior Designer Greg Mcneil, Rachcoff Vella Architecture
Town Planner Sjb Planning
Electrical Engineer Njm Consulting
Land Surveyor Beveridge Williams
Civil Engineer Coughlan Civil Pty Ltd
Building Surveyor Lorenzini Group
Builder Graeme Morris, G&S Morris Constructions
Structural Engineer Keith Patrick & Associates
Fixtures And Fittings
Door Hardware Designer Doorware
Joinery Hardware Cutting Edge Joinery
Appliances Sanitary Ware E&S Trading
Kitchen Appliances Miele; Gaggenau; Qasair Custom Rangehood; Liebherr Integrated Fridge
Sanitaryware Argent — Villeroy & Boch
Tapware Zucchetti Taps; Gessi Taps
Basins Omvivo & Reece
Heated Towel Rails Reece Kado
Shower Grates Creative Drain Solutions
Tile Supplier Classic Ceramics; Perini Tiles
Lighting Superlight; Mlight; Artemide; Space Furniture; Lampcity; Surrounding Lighting
Stone Benchtops Corsi & Nicolai; Caesarstone
Timber Veneer Amerind
Timber Cladding Woodform Architectural & Ballarat Timber Merchant
External Render Renderoc Parchem — Natural Concrete Finish
Insulation Bradford Gold: Csr
Roofing Bluescope Steel — Lysaght
Cladding Anthra-Zinc — Vm Zinc
Furniture And Furnishings
Curtains & Blinds Eclipse Blinds Ngs
Furniture Zuster; Space Furniture
Carpets Victoria Carpets
Hydronic Heating Angus Eeles
Joinery Cutting Edge Joinery
Window Fabricator European Window Company
Written by Emma Wheaton
Photography by Shannon Mcgrath
Originally From Grand Designs Australia Issue 3.2