Among rows of impeccably restored Victorian and Federation-style mansions in Melbourne’s leafy Armadale, BE Architecture’s house stands firmly. Comprising a hefty granite façade – some 260 tonnes to be precise – one would assume its presence was imposing.
Yet given the stone’s silvery grey split-faced texture, the hard lines of the stacked modular design are softened by ripples that grant it a weightlessness when the sun refracts over its quartz veins. Large mechanical timber shades piercing the sheath compliment its organic nature, ushering in daylight.
The house was built for clients downsizing from a large family home. ‘The internal spaces are light and open, particularly in the living area where the fully retractable glazed doors open onto the adjacent courtyard,’ says BE Architecture co-director, Andrew Piva. The footprint (including a pool abutting the rear wall) almost covers the entire 537 sq m block.
However, the house’s volume is concealed by the placement of sleeping quarters – including additional bedrooms with adjoining en-suites for visiting adult children – on the upper level, while a gym and second study are tucked behind the subterranean double-garage. Granting the illusion of outdoor space, BE’s in-house multi-disciplinary team designed the landscaping too.
A secluded Japanese garden surrounds the master bedroom’s outdoor shower while Mount Fuji trees line the front fence in response to ‘the clients’ desire to have diverse planted outlooks and terraces without the maintenance of a full lawn,’ adds Piva.
Throughout, raw and refined materials contrast and compliment, with granite used consistently. Underfoot, Torino Granite was flamed and brushed for the outdoor terrace, seamlessly blending to a honed speckled version within the open living plan. ‘The builder, LBA Construction, felt that given the importance of the stone in the project that a specialised stone mason was essential,’ notes Piva, especially regarding the master en-suite’s original use of Fallow Granite. The custom bath and basin benches were engineered from solid blocks to achieve a dense, textural finish.
Adding an emotive layer is BE’s masterful manipulation of chiaroscuro. Angular shadows are cast by generously proportioned doorways while pure light streams through the oculus above the stairwell creating a crushed velvet plushness to the polished grey cement render upon its curved walls – the only sculpted planes of the linear build.