Set atop a magnificent site on the Bellarine Peninsula, Contour House anchors itself into the landscape with a 5.5-metre-high folding concrete wall. This gesture is both protective and revealing, simultaneously creating an internal courtyard, while extending the spectacular 270-degree views into the living areas. This residence extends our interest in the journey and ideas of place-making, particularly the manner in which it might challenge preconceived ways of living.
Houses of this type are predicated on their relationship to the landscape. An ongoing preoccupation with this office is this landscape/architecture relationship and, in particular, the sometimes violent act of building. All human inhabitation in this country involves a disruption of the pristine natural environment. Contour House examines the act of building and how the sometimes simple act of constructing a wall can have such a dramatic and direct engagement with the landscape.
The courtyard created by this concrete wall is both a protective device (the site is very inhospitable at times with fierce winds) and also serves to anchor the house back into the landscape. The reverse side of the wall is timber framed and clad, acting as a counterpoint to the massiveness of the concrete. The wall is designed to appear as a remnant or ruin discovered.
The form of the house is derived from the existing contours, which have been extruded up to generate the plan. The approach to the house is deliberately blank and abstract, denying the views beyond. Once inside the house, the viewer is released out into the view. The window openings are carefully curated on the façade to provide differing views of the landscape beyond.
The house contains a number of sustainable initiatives, including: four 22,000-litre water tanks for water harvesting, grey water treatment on site, double-glazing throughout, recycled timber products, low VOC emitting materials, low energy appliances, solar hot water and high levels of insulation.
The in-ground conditions on the site were extremely difficult, requiring some creative solutions from the design team. The structural engineers won an award for the structural solution to the house, and particularly the in-ground footing system.