Every great journey starts with one small step.
The same can be said of architecture and the Marion Bay house is a perfect case in point. Located an hour from Hobart, the road slowly turns from bitumen to dust, then past the old gums, through a few cattle grates then up around the rusting shed until finally there in front of the weary traveller that is some sought of architectural mirage. At first glance this does not look like a house at all perched overlooking the vista of Marion Bay.
On arrival your first impression is of a long timber clad blank wall. Is this some sought of arc? Or timber crate? Or as Architect Mike Verdouw describes it, a 'timber fence' that has somehow graduated into a modern house.
The quite imposing timber wall screens the view that is only fully realised once you enter the main living room. From here you are thrown into a panorama that stretches for miles. The living room also contains the kitchen with a suspended rotating fireplace that hangs from the ceiling. The plan of the house can be described as a long triangle with the bedrooms tucked back in the tail.
The Eureka moment in the design came when someone in Mikes office left a scrap piece of butter paper on his desk that suggested the house should be turned at right angles to the slope of the hill. Not your first impulse but it proved the masterstroke. From that point the design developed into a sculptural shearing wedge that juts out of the rolling hillside.
One of the other great features is a bath which hangs like an outrigger outside the line of the house. It suspends you in the landscape with no privacy issues, as the nearest neighbours are somewhere else in the evergreen valley.
This is a house for those who seek refuge as it was designed that way. The irony is that the owners are Danish and have to literally travel to the other side of the world, Tasmania, to reach their holiday home.
The Marion bay house is an adventure on every level. Its a journey of discovery aboard a beautifully crafted timber house, that in its setting has the power to tease you before you arrive. And once you pass through the timber wall, like 'Alice' you are transported to yet another Tassie wonderland.