A Spectacular Design that Unites Intimacy and Grandeur, Celebrating Nature’s Serenity and Beauty
Michael Lumby Architecture and Nielsen Jenkins, have collaborated to design an architectural wonder in the Merricks Farmhouse. Situated on an impressive 50-acre property, the residence is a celebration of its environment, providing a captivating viewpoint over vineyards extending to Philip Island and Western Port Bay on the Mornington Peninsula, Australia. The design also offers an abstract take on classic Australian farmhouses, hence its name.
Built on a hill, the wood and cinderblock house overlooks the stunning vistas but also grapples with often harsh coastal weather. An ingenious layout provides the solution to this challenge. Spread across a single level, the floor plan incorporates a central courtyard garden providing shelter and serenity. As the heart of the residence, the courtyard offers a respite from the wide-open expanse during the day and a peaceful retreat as nightfall descends.
While designed primarily for two people, the residence showcases an inherent flexibility to accommodate the occasional influx of family visitors. The house’s design allows for sections to be isolated, transforming its functions into a courtyard wall, whereas the primary living spaces in the front wing can function as a comfortable one-bedroom pavilion. This adaptability ensures the dwelling retains a sense of intimacy irrespective of its expansive footprint.
Streamlined and graceful, the roof stand out in the landscape. The walls, however, display an earthy authenticity, extending a meter out into the surrounding land. Depending on their location around communal or secluded spaces, they either project outward views or enclose private courtyards.
Keeping the landscape at the heart of the living spaces.
The team’s design philosophy focuses on placing the architecture in a secondary role, with the building serving as a frame to the surrounding landscape. Each room is a window onto a garden, a visual connection to nature. The existing trees played a crucial role in influencing the design and location of the house. The old elm avenue, once a driveway entry, is now the primary pedestrian path, and the lilly pillies on the northern side bring the design to a natural conclusion, forming a softer courtyard bordered by a tree line.
In a practical nod to the site’s independence from council mains, all water needs are sourced from rainfall captured by the broad roof and stored in concrete tanks. This essential farming construct finds a new life in the garden spaces, crafted into birdbaths, a firepit, and a series of ponds. Each of these elements adds to the landscape’s beauty and uniqueness.
Merricks Farmhouse is not merely a display of architectural talent; it is a portrayal of the symbiosis between design and nature. The meticulous arrangement of space, the homage paid to the landscape, and the accommodation for both residents and guests – all animate the property. In doing so, the project encapsulates the essence of design and architecture, a harmony that resonates deeply with those who appreciate them. Photography © Tom Ross.