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A Thoughtful Coastal Home, Designed To Celebrate Food + Wine

A Thoughtful Coastal Home, Designed To Celebrate Food + Wine

Architecture

by Bea Taylor

The wine cellar sits in the center of the house, ‘the heart of the home for a family who make wine,’ says architect Clare Scorpo.

Claire wanted the elevated hearth and fireplace, which connects the spaces, to draw people in.

Claire was inspired by Danish architect Jørn Utzon for the design of the floor-to-ceiling glass windows and doors.

Claire loved working with her dad, a landscape architect, on the design.

‘My father has always encouraged me to consider the landscape as one of the first elements in a build,’ she says.

A covered outdoor kitchen area connects to the house.

This Merricks North home was designed for a wine-making couple who love to celebrate food and wine, and getting together with friends and family.

With such an intimate brief for the unconventional home, there was no-one better placed to helm the design than Claire Scorpo, of Agius Scorpo Architects, a frequent visitor, and daughter of the owners.

Claire started working on the home when she was still a student — ‘It went through too many iterations to count’, she says — and over three separate stages, it was finished four years later.

Although the renovations only added a mere seven square meters to the house, Claire says, ‘It feels like a completely new home.’

The previous structure was a tumbled brick veneer farmhouse built in the 70s. It had interiors lined with dark timber and a deep verandah that let little light into the house, making it darker still.

‘The planning was a little pokey and did not make use of the incredible south-western views that stretch over to Phillip Island,’ explains Claire.

In order to champion this stunning outlook, Claire designed large windows that invite the landscape in. ‘The only area we extended out were the reveals for the new windows to the north and south,’ she explains. ‘We were keen for these new openings to have a sense of depth to really frame the views out,’ she says.

At the time, Claire was particularly inspired by the large glass doors made by Danish architect Jørn Utzon for his own home; where the frames sit proud on the exterior, for an unobstructed view.

Although this detail unfortunately didn’t seal properly and required additional seals over winter — ‘the advantages of a family project!’ says Claire — she was gratified to learn upon visiting the celebrated architect’s home a couple of years ago, that his windows, too, were stopped with pieces of soft foam and tape. ‘So at least I know these were replicated authentically!’, she laughs.

Claire reconfigured the layout of the home to prioritise connection. ‘Cooking and sharing wine and meals together is what this house is all about,’ she explains.

The pinwheel design of the kitchen and living spaces allows visual adjacency, but also separation, so different people and conversations can happen in each ‘zone’ independently when the house is at full capacity.

‘This works really well as the kids can be playing in the lounge, whilst people are working together to cook in the kitchen, and others are sitting at the table,’ Claire says.

An open fire on an elevated hearth connects all the spaces together, inspired by the fireplace at her grandparents’ house, where everyone gravitated to on arrival. ‘We were keen to create the same moment in this house,’ Claire explains. ‘And it does just that. It’s the first place people sit in winter, with a glass of wine before the meal.’

Second only to the family’s love of getting together, is their love of wine — Claire’s parents are the owners of Scorpo Wines.

And the home, it should come as no surprise, is therefore centered around the cellar; ‘the heart of the home for a family who make wine,’ explains Claire.

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