Peninsula House

2000 - 2002
Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia

A 30m x 7.2m oxidized steel portal structure has been embedded into the side of a sand dune. This structure forms the ‘exoskeleton’ of the house upon which the weather controlling outer skin - operable timber shutters, glass roof and walls are all mounted. The simple programme of the house - a living/eating room, library and sleeping room forms the ‘endoskeleton’ of the building. The sleeping room is an inner room accessed by a private stair. These notions of inner room (moya) and enclosed verandah (hisashi) were explored in an earlier work (the Carter/ Tucker house) where the idea of fluid (aisle) space formed the basis of the design for that building. Whereas in the Carter/Tucker house the three primary spaces were treated equally in dimension and volume, in this house the three primary spaces are different in dimension, volume and quality of light - the living room is very light, the bedroom is moderately light and the library is dark by comparison. The verandah has become further abstracted in this work to become the protective outer layer of the building. There is no distinction in that sense between the function of the roof and the function of the walls. The house itself is the nurturing inner room, protected from the elements by a coarse outer hide. The interplay of the occupant between these two elements activates the simple form of the building (by the opening and closing of the façade) and transforms it into an organic domain. This effect is further accentuated by the emptying and filling of the building with light, filtered through the timber screens, which maps the course of the day and the time of the year in the shape and extent of the shadows cast by the screens.

This is a further investigation into the similarities between the enclosed verandah of the traditional Japanese house and the ‘sun room ‘ of the Australian house. My interest lies in the iconic nature of these elements to both cultures - Asian and European - and the common architectural ground which they afford to the region.