Stone and Wood are the Protagonists in This Contemporary Home

Ballarat House

Nestled between views of Lake Wendouree, the open sky and dense plantations, the Ballarat House was designed as a comfortable modern home for a family of four through winters and summers.

Situated in Victoria’s largest inland city, Ballarat is just an hour’s drive away from Melbourne. Local architects Rachel Nolan and Patrick Kennedy, also known as Kennedy Nolan Architects, teamed up with clients and builders Spence Construction to dream up their ideal lakeside dwelling.

Ballarat House

The clients provided Kennedy Nolan with a fairly loose brief, including the wish for a comfortable space to work from home, a place to entertain family and friends, as well as a balanced design that would accommodate the extremes of Ballarat’s contrasting climate throughout the winter and summer months.

Ballarat House
Ballarat House
Ballarat House

The stunning view of the lake served as the starting point for this project, posing both strengths as well as constraints. “The defining quality of the site is its lakeside frontage which presents a continually changing view as light interacts with water and sky.

Opening up to this beautiful view however, had potentially negative aspects. The road between the house and the lake was a problem in terms of maintaining privacy to the interior from passing motorists and pedestrians. Additionally, the view faced south.”

Ballarat House
Ballarat House
Ballarat House

With the view facing the opposite direction of the sun, the architects decided to conceptualize a brilliant response to tackle the issue, which was to raise the home’s facade and add windows to allow plenty of natural light to pour inside the home. 

“The front of the house is elevated a half level, the garden bermed up to a terrace. The berm is densely planted with high decorative grasses which sway and quiver to reflect the movement of air.

The half-level elevation and high grasses ensure that while the lake view is ever present from the interior down the length of the house, passing cars and people are edited from sight – an arrangement which in reverse also provides privacy to the interior from the street. A series of north-facing clerestories pull warmth and light to the interior.”

Ballarat House
Ballarat House
Ballarat House
Ballarat House

Another challenge faced by the architects was to cater a midcentury feel to the contemporary design, which can be quite challenging in a newly built home.

The collaboration with client Spence Construction resulted in much desired results. “Our best work comes out of great client relationships. We listened very carefully to what our clients wanted, and because they felt listened to they placed a huge amount of trust in us.

Because of this trust, we were able to easily explain our concepts, some of which were unorthodox, and similarly we were respectful of our clients’ questions and instincts.”

Ballarat House
Ballarat House
Photos by Derek Swalwell