Home Tour | Merricks Farmhouse by Michael Lumby with Nielsen Jenkins
Overlooking the rolling hills and vineyards that meet the coastline on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, Merricks Farmhouse appears as an extension of the landscape. Designed by Michael Lumby and Nielsen Jenkins, the home is located on a 50-acre property in Boon Wurrung Country with views of Philip Island and Western Port Bay.
Michael Lumby and Nielsen Jenkins specified Brickworks bricks for the project.
The brief called for a new home away from the client’s former Melbourne base – leading Michael Lumby Architecture and Nielsen Jenkins to take inspiration from the regional vernacular. “Intrigued by the typical Australian farmhouse, we began romanticising it with its low-slung roof, wrap-around porch and deep eaves,” architect Michael Lumby says. The project evolved as to “how [the design team] could abstract this characteristic – distilling the notion of the Australian farmhouse into one idea: a line of shadow in the landscape,” Michael adds. And that’s exactly how this house reads.
Much like a gallery or a cellar door, the architects have curated various pockets of space that make you feel almost as if you were in a public building – only this is a family home. One-metre-thick arms of concrete blockwork form the home’s bones, stretching out from the interiors to form various facade walls. These concrete walls also create various pocket gardens around the key living spaces within, “editing and choreographing views and circulation,” Michael says.
The kitchen and dining spaces connect to the outdoors through a large courtyard.
A warm timber kitchen forms the heart of this home, with darker timber elements and concrete running throughout. The space features a Boffi tap and Wolf oven.
“Every room looks out onto a garden,” Nielsen Jenkins architect and co-founder Lachlan Nielsen says, sharing how the home is deliberately located where the old 1980s house once stood. The living areas were set out based on existing trees and vineyards. “The avenue of elms at the front of the property and the windbreak of lillypillies to the north of the pool were retained to create a ‘full stop’ to the house,” Lachlan says, by forming a “softer courtyard with a wall of trees as an edge”. Once the house plans were drawn, the design team looked to landscape designers Franchesca Watson and Robyn Barlow to further embed the home into its landscape.
There is “a constant theme of the architecture receding, with the building acting simply as a lens from which to experience the landscape,” Lachlan Nielsen notes. The home provides floor-to-ceiling outlooks over Mornington Peninsula and beyond from even the most intimate internal spaces. “Our clients had stipulated that the house’s architecture must reflect its rural context and tie into the vernacular of the region”, shares Morgan Jenkins, and when paired with such deep roots into its landscape, the resulting Merricks Farmhouse is an authentic addition to its region.
The bathroom features floor-to-ceiling views of the courtyard.
“Our clients had purchased the spectacular block in Merricks and their brief described a house which could work for just the two of them but also the entire family for special occasions like Christmas holidays and weddings.”
– Morgan Jenkins
The outdoor dining area takes in views of the rolling landscape.