As part of a conceptual design inquiry, five global architectural studio’s joined NEOMETRO to propose unique yet cohesive residential proposals for each of NURA’s land lots. MAArchitects were allocated lot 4, a gently tapering envelop with a topography that lends to a residential design bunkered within the landscape. As a response, MAA’s concept has emerged as a “lantern in the landscape,” heroing the beauty of its native context rather than the building itself.
There is an undeniable atmosphere of discovery that encompasses MAA’s design response to their site at NURA. Beginning with the discovery of the house itself which is integrated within the landscape and takes volumetric cues from the height of surrounding land and tea-tree shrubs. The experience of arrival is the first of many highly considered design intents whereby a vehicular approach allows for glimpses of the upper windows of the low-lying house — almost like a periscope above the waterline — followed by a gentle descent into the landscape to reach the front door. These conditions serve as a connection to the land, a mental readiness for the change of pace to realign from where you’ve been to where you now are surrounded by the purely elemental qualities of the Peninsula’s coastal forces.
Habitation of MAA’s proposed residence is all about harnessing the pillars that make an Australian beach house particularly resonant — a looseness to the architecture allowing for a suitability of use across generations, a robustness that is rigorously accepting of children racing from inside to out, beach and bbq paraphernalia being flung (wet and sandy) left and right, and an arrangement of “spaces that have a use. That are flexible. A series of spaces that are defined by the solid elements at the back to allow for a flexibility over time,” acknowledges MAA Principal Karen Alcock.
Inspired by Roy Grounds crude yet highly intuitive initial sketches for his layout of Melbourne’s Arts Centre (a rectangle, circle and triangle declared the design while he was on a beach in Waikiki), here the humble rectangle perfectly slots into a natural valley in the landscape. Oriented towards the South, the embedded concrete form of the home exudes an enduring unfussyness. Pragmatics drive “how you interact with the building and how you experience the site through the building,” says Karen, “it’s about simple manoeuvers.”
Inspired by those enduring patterns that define family beach holidays, where the best of intentions quickly give way to new daily rituals and a re-ordering of priorities, MAA’s Lantern In The Landscape is proposed as a house equally accepting of solitary escape, long summer holidays with a continuous open-door policy extended to friends and family, and a joy as much in its exterior as its interior.
“Buildings are about moments. It’s very rare that you experience a building as an object. It is a series of moments such as how you navigate a step.”