You don’t expect to see a modern, minimalist creation in one of Bendigo’s first gazetted streets. And truth be told, you won’t. Although it does exist, this house was built to be almost hidden from its historic streetscape. It’s a feat of architectural brilliance beyond the modest heritage building at the front of the block. But that’s not even the most impressive aspect of this latest build by BLR Provincial Construction. It’s all about that view.
“It’s a real surprise, this site,” says the home’s architect Rimmon Martin, of E+ Architecture. His brief was to make best use of light, space and any potential view from the block’s slight vantage point above old gold Bendigo. “We had an inkling the view was there but it really wasn’t until the first floor frame and some of the floor sheeting went down that we could see how amazing it was.”
Let us flag some of the highlights; the Sacred Heart Cathedral spire, Coolock House, Bendigo hockey fields, One Tree Hill and event Mount Alexander rising cool and blue in the background. Closer to the home it’s all date palms and peppercorns, rusty roofs and red brick chimneys.
“You don’t realise how green and leafy the city is until you see it like this,” Rimmon says. “It’s always great to be involved in sites like this and seeing the client’s passion for Bendigo made me really work hard to get the views and the light.”
Apart from that one blinding wow factor, Rimmon says this home is otherwise deceptively simple. It’s a two-storey, three-bedroom house with a timber frame with cement sheet exterior. Inside, it’s all crisp white plaster walls, matt blonde Tassie oak floors and full-height windows. “A fair proportion of the budget for this house is in these windows – having them this size and getting the performance out of them,” Rimmon says. They’re double glazed with insulated, honeycomb-pattern blinds that open from the bottom up to maximise privacy and views.
The main bedroom and open-plan kitchen/dining/living room are dominated by the sky. However the kitchen does hold its own with a stone benchtop and imported Spanish wall tiles.
Rimmon says it’s terrific to see unique sites such as this reach their potential through good design. “People are becoming more savvy about design and what that can bring to a house, particularly on a site like this,” he says. “Although I drive around Bendigo and I see a lot of lost potential. I see what could have been.”
Rimmon was born in Bendigo, grew up in New South Wales, and worked in Melbourne before moving back here with his wife nine years ago. He says in that time he’s seen more clients willing to invest larger amounts into their homes. “Certainly with houses in particular we’ve seen people willing to spend larger sums and in the last four years there’s been a jump again and we’re seeing million dollar-plus houses built in Bendigo.”
He says the heritage areas of the inner city ironically provide more opportunities for modern design and creativity than, say, new-home subdivisions. “This property has a heritage overlay but the main restriction was that it had a blank face from the street and didn’t draw attention to itself. You’ve got more things to respond to with a site like this. Sometimes it’s harder to design a house when there are no constraints apart from the fact it has to be brick and have a pitched roof. That can be more limiting than being in a heritage context.”
Although this house is modestly tucked away, Rimmon says there is one point from a street beyond where he can look up and get a good view of his work. He won’t ever be able to drive past now without doing just that.