Rugged Sophistication in Australia
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Contextual, sustainable, and modern; Hill Plain House in Metcalf, Victoria, by Australian firm Wolveridge Associates ticks all the boxes, despite its intentionally dark interiors. At first glance, with its low rectilinear form sitting across the vast horizon, Hill Plain House could easily be mistaken for the many Victorian farm structures dotted around this South East part of Australia. And this would no doubt please architect/owner Jeremy Wolveridge, who wanted to create a sense of “Australianess," which he defines as “rugged sophistication, characterized by a palette of natural, industrial materials; a sense of craftsmanship and a childhood reminder of growing up in the 1970s.” Designed to be highly responsive to its surrounding environment, with its careful north/south siting, insulated surfaces, and natural cross ventilation, this off-the-grid house breathes on its own, affecting every choice of detail and material. And the dark interiors? They provide relief from the bright Australian light, drawing the eyes to the external vista, further enforcing the already strong connection to the environment beyond. Photography Derek Swalwell . Above: Large sliding screens shield the house from the intense sun of Australian summer while creating a filtered internal light. The solar panels which lay on top of the roof are part of a 2-kilowatt solar/battery system which provides electricity to the off grid house. A sub-ground backup generator is located remotely. Above: Wolveridge made a conscious decision to use non-domestic materials like steel, concrete, recycled timber, and concrete masonry. If there is any plaster, it's been painted black. Above: In an otherwise monochromatic interior, the bright yellow is the only dash of color and a nod to the architect's childhood of the 70's. Above: The vaulted ceiling is lined with offcuts from structural beams that were milled for recycled flooring. Above: Wolveridge lined the shower with full height sheets of mild steel, creating a stark contrast to the view to the exterior. Above: The wood cladding of the exterior is reminiscent of local Victorian era farm structures. Above: Full height large sliding doors placed on the north and south sides of the house provide cross ventilation or protection from the wind as required. Above: An outdoor kitchen off to the side of the house is clad with vertical planks of wood. Above: The simple rugged nature of the exterior belies the sophisticated design solutions on the interior. Above: A typical Victorian farm structure of the region.