This Strathmore project (10 kilometres north-west of the Melbourne CBD) started with a relatively simple and standard brief for a family home, but clever planning by Modo Architecture has resulted in a unique design showcasing substance and personality.

The idea of open-plan living was floated early in the design process, and while both Modo and the client (a family of four) expressed interest in this arrangement, they were keen to avoid common drawbacks. ‘We spoke about how the idea of a modern, open living plan is often a large room with loose furniture, creating this ‘gymnasium’ and ‘hollow’ atmosphere,’ says Michael Ong, director of Modo. ‘They wanted the house to feel open, but not disconnected.’

In response, Modo designed the communal areas of the home as a generally open layout, but with subtle differences in materiality and volume that clearly distinguish spaces from one another. The kitchen, for example, adopts the form of a double-height space, whereas the adjacent dining room features a lowered timber ceiling. ‘This softens the acoustics and minimises echoes, creating a more intimate space, while the lowered height encourages you to sit deeper and relax more in your chair,’ explains Michael. A steel staircase with fine balustrades divides the living room from the kitchen, without fully eliminating the visual connection between the two. 

Also integral to this home is the way the floor plan essentially hugs the outdoor lap pool. This placement of the pool was very deliberate, Michael explains. ‘Our approach to this was to position the pool right in the centre. This then becomes the visual and formal anchor for the moment you walk in,’ he says. ‘Reflection from the water is bounced into the house throughout the day, and the pool not only becomes a place for the kids to train, but a visual element that adds to the interior.’

The use of concrete block work and various flat-roofed forms references the client’s love of mid-century and brutalist architecture. The Vandamm house (actually an elaborate film set) in Hitchcock’s thriller North by Northwest was also a point of inspiration, ‘specifically the feeling of weight from the brick structure, the lightness from the glass and timber, and the play of volumes internally,’ says Michael. Let this inspiration be the only similarity to living in a Hitchcock film! 

See more from Modo here.



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