Architectural beauty amid the eucalypts
Jeremy and Claire Anderson left no stone unturned when designing their finely crafted home and studio in Jan Juc which shelters beneath a canopy of towering eucalypts.
Both architects, they invested seven years into the planning stage – a process that began while holidaying in Japan – with the intention of creating a home and work space that would both complement and respond to its coastal surrounds.
“We lived in a little rundown shack on the site and we always had the intention of building a house here,” Jeremy explains.
“The existing house was in pretty bad nick so we nursed it along for as long as we could and it got to a point where we were almost falling through the floors.
“The advantage of that was that we got to understand the site really well – the aspects that we really enjoyed, particularly the northern backyard, the gum trees and the sound of the ocean coming up through the hills.
“It meant we could set the house up based on those elements which was really advantageous.”
Central to the design is a veil of operable, permeable timber screens which provide shelter for the spaces within while welcoming in fresh sea breezes and dappled light that shifts according to the time of the day and position of the screens.
“This house, in particular, was designed around natural sunlight and sea breezes,” Jeremy says.
“The screens open up to let the house breathe and let the coastal breezes into the house.
“It fits in and around the trees.
“When it is warmer we open the screens up and we are essentially working outside which is beautiful.
“And then on colder days we can close it up and it becomes more intimate.
“So the way the building adapts to the weather conditions is something we really enjoy playing with.
“Even from an external point-of-view, bringing the garden into the house at certain times.
“Depending on what the light’s doing it refracts off the battens and bounces around internally.”
Jeremy describes it as feeling like “living on a platform among the bush” – an experience enhanced by the building’s sense of simplicity and open plan design where there are no walls and rooms in the typical sense.The house is experienced as a single space that can be separated into zones as needed and can adapt to suit those who live, work and play within it.
There are no internal walls that meet external walls, allowing every room to be opened up to the next.
“It’s quite a flexible floorplan, it can open and close, there are a lot of sliding doors so for the most part we leave the house essentially completely open so you can almost see from the front to the back,” says Jeremy, adding that the house is growing with them since the recent addition of daughter Elki.
“We grouped spaces so the living areas are more toward the north and the more private areas are towards the south.”
This thoughtful and thorough approach shines through and industry recognition has flowed for “Gairloch Studio” which has been shortlisted in both the Houses Awards (New House under 200 square metres) and the Australian Institute of Architects 2022 Victorian Awards (Houses – New).
It is further recognition for Eldridge Anderson Architects which was co-founded by Jeremy and fellow architect Scott Eldridge.
Jeremy says it is both humbling and something they are proud of as a relatively young practice that has grown organically.
“We’ve only got four built projects, and amazingly from that three of them have been shortlisted for awards.
“We feel like we are on the right track and we are producing some high quality work.
“We’ve deliberately kept our practice quite small so we can be hands-on and be right across every detail of a project.
“We build models of every project and clients are often surprised at how we continually refine the design throughout the process.”
This approach is evident in Gairloch Studio with its intricate attention to detail and bespoke approach to both the building form and function, as well as its custom-designed furnishings.
Recycled blackbutt, glass and steel are the three main elements used and custom-made pieces such as the kitchen bench and dining table are made from stainless steel with a special finish developed by Jeremy and Scott to enhance the subtle light and create a dull glow.
“We were really testing a lot of things in this house. There’s essentially nothing off-the-shelf in the house, everything is custom,” Jeremy says.
“We had to reinvent systems, so the door systems for example are completely just made up – the doors don’t slide in a typical track – just things like that, every little element, even the locks and hinges, everything we made.”
Appealing to the different human senses, including touch and smell, is another defining feature of the home and studio that was intended to enhance the ritual of everyday life.
“A lot of our projects are probably more concrete heavy materials and masonry elements and that is “But it really has a different feel to what we wanted to achieve in this house.
“We were interested in engaging with more of the senses, for example smell and the way the timber feels.
“It’s a tactile thing when you open a door and you can feel the sharp edge of the timber or the slightly smoothed edge, it’s something we were really interested in and it’s something people comment on a lot.
“From the outside you open this big steel door and it reveals itself, like a joinery piece internally.
“People often say they can smell the timber as they walk in.
“It sort of takes you into another world when you walk into that space – it’s holistic and it’s a purity of intention, I guess.”
So, is there anything that has surprised them in a space that has been so carefully considered and mindfully designed
“I did envisage there would be some quite dramatic shadows and things like that but probably didn’t imagine it would be so lit up during the day and change so much.
“The sun bounces off the side of the battens and gets more deeply into the house and lights it up like a lantern.
“Day to day it’s a different experience which is really nice.”
Discover more about Eldridge Anderson Architects at eldridgeanderson.com.au and on Instagram @eldridge_andersondriven more by clients generally.