Ocean View Farmhouse, Mount Nee, Queensland, Australia : 1993-95 : Andresen and O'Gorman
The initial response to inhabiting the exposed hillside property was to construct the house as a windbreak along the contours and to give it a dimension more commensurate with the larger landscape scale.
In order to acknowledge dominance of the landscape the form of the gabled house is contrived, by running the ridge on the diagonal, to underscore three landscape elements. Firstly, the ridge as seen from the hill above underscores, coincides and interacts with the line of the distant horizon. Secondly, the gable is formed about the fold of the spur on the site. The symmetry and ‘house’ symbolism of the gable is fixed around this line. Finally, the long, raking eave on the north side of the house follows the line of the dominant, downhill slope of the spur. The form of the house is more transparent at its extremities where the long, batten-work tail of the garages interlaces with the landscape and contrasts with the solidity of the fireplaces at the centre.
To minimise ground works, a shallow cut was made along one contour and retained by a low wall running beyond the full length of the house which has timber floors, suspended off the ground, stepping with the slope of the land.
The building is constructed downhill of the retaining wall leaving a gap on the south bridged by timber ‘grids’ keeping cattle away from the walls, providing a mud threshold and extending the entry sequence experience. The gap on the north has large, flat-top rocks from the site creating thresholds to the north wing rooms. These are imagined as ‘little sisters’ of the Glasshouse Mountains in the distant view.
The plan is configured as an enfilade of rooms open to the north for wind-protection, winter sun and wide views. The farmhouse has two primary walls. The south-facing wall, first seen on arrival to the property, appears as a shallow gable on axis with the entry and the ridgeline of a small north-south spur. This predominantly ‘blind’, southern wall is constructed as studwork and clad in 200mm profiled metal sheets set vertically and overlaid with dark-stained timber battens at 300mm centres fixed horizontally. The battens continue across the timber framework of the tractor shed and bedroom veranda forming security screens.
The intention has been to enliven the south wall with changing shadow patterns and climbing plants and to give a bolder scale to the cladding in the vast landscape. While the closed south wall acts as a windbreak during high winds, the wide sliding gates on both sides of the long wing of the house can, on calm days, be left fully opened to increase transparency and permeability and surprising views up and down the hillside.
On the north the gable form of the south wall gives way to a single raking roof where the long line of the eave follows the slope of the hillside to the west. The more sheltered north wall, in contrast to the south, is constructed with outside studs clad on the inside with a single thickness of marine ply sheeting. The north wall includes fly-screening and daylight control as part of the sliding doors to the bunkroom and workshop. The north wall, protected by a wide eave overhang and sheltered from prevailing winds, is intended to be more permeable, textured by vertical elements. The boundaries and thresholds through the transverse section of the long wing of the house are designed to withhold and then release the view to the ocean and to amplify surprise on arrival.
Text from the Andresen and O’Gorman Architects’ Statement, from ‘UME 22 – Andresen and O’Gorman Works 1995-2001’ by Haig Beck and Jackie Cooper, 2011
Photos : Adrian Boddy, Reiner Blunck
Drawings : Michael Barrnett
Drawn images sourced from ‘UME 22 – Andresen and O’Gorman Works 1995-2001’ by Haig Beck and Jackie Cooper, 2011