“As often happens in the approach to an Australian country house, it was difficult to decide where to breach the Lushington homestead. There were verandas, porches, lights, snatches of piano music, whinging dogs, skittering cats, archways with rose-thorns, a drift of kitchen smells, but never any real indication of how to enter. Australian country architecture is in some sense a material extension of the contradictory beings who have evolved its elaborate informality, as well as a warning to those who do not belong inside the labyrinth.”
Patrick White, The Twyborn Affair 1979
'Oakfield' by Ursula Chandler Architects comprises a 5x9m room affixed off the rear of a 1920s farmhouse. The farmhouse, re-built after a fire, forms part of a larger 1860s homestead complex comprising an array of outbuildings, sheds and gardens, and a network of historic cypress and pine windbreaks, once used to order the movement of sheep and people across the site.
Located in Riddells Creek, an hour outside of Melbourne, the nearby township is semi-rural, historically supporting a minor agricultural industry. Traditionally the lands of the Wurundjeri people, the area was once dominated by grassy woodlands but is now defined by undulating, cleared basalt plains which fall gently down to Riddells and Jacobs Creek. In the distance the Macedon Ranges are visible across the horizon line.
The new room references the surrounding outbuildings: a diverse complex of sheds and shelters purpose-built for industry. Their transposed characteristics helped resolve issues concerning a southern orientation, an existing building fabric, and one which did not visually address the broader landscape. The multiple and ambiguous entries of the existing house are rationalised with a new entry link which inverts an existing corridor volume, reconfiguring the inherent spatial trajectory of the house. The new space, casually disposed, employs an unusual orientation and multiple operable openings to create an unexpectedly frank encounter with the garden and distant rural views beyond.