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. Lisbon-based studio Aires Mateus was allocated lot 3, arguably the jewel in the crown yet harnessing its own particular challenges which have been approached in a unique manner by a studio with the luxury of remove. As the international component of the NURA inquiry, Aires Mateus have been able to respond to the ethereal and physical conditions of the site without the weight of nostalgia and familiarity. Free from the deeply ingrained memories and experiences of Australia’s coastal context that the other studio’s valuably harness, an entirely different yet equally complimentary design has emerged.
Lot 3 harbours a strong elemental connection balancing the resonance of sun and sea. To the south, Bass Strait is a sensorially powerful presence in all but sight. A natural delineation of tea tree shrubs marks the threshold between sea and sun as the solar summer strength and diluted winter warmth tracks across the sky from the east to west. These foundational conditions have lent to a conceptual residence tiered and cascading down the landscape to leverage light and views. It’s highest points are reached via a ramp rising towards the south, representing an ambition to peek above the shrubs to complete the phenomenological engagement with the ocean, watching its meditative nuances while feeling the sun upon your back.
Manuel Aires Mateus and José Maria Gonçalves, in the absence of formative experience, have projected themselves into the essence of NURA to manifest a profound experience of habitation. Visualising the “house so it is like a platform that uses the roof. A house that responds to the feeling of going up, integrating the natural and artificial landscapes.” Beginning with a triangle which tracks the building envelop, the footprint of the residence unravelled throughout the conceptual development process to rest upon a volume, supported by a services structure, cantilevered in sculptural purity. The built environment traces the naturally sloped topography to realise its ramped form which surrounds a patio to the north, and a pool at the periphery of the core. The overarching sentiment is that the home is floating above the landscape, both in harmony with it and yet retaining a notion of alighting so as to leave the barest of impressions on the terrain itself.
Ultimately, Aires Mateus has conceived a home entirely informed by how it would be experienced. There is a clarity to the conceptual outcome that homages the surroundings while bestowing a veil of aesthetic simplicity over pragmatic complexity, and wholly amplifying the native beauty of NURA.