View Hill House + Vineyard
View Hill House + Vineyard House, sits on top of a hill overlooking the Yarra Valley vineyards, to the north of Melbourne. It is a striking piece of architecture, with a cantilever coated in corten and sides that open up to views of the stunning landscape. The perforated steel allows dappled light in but keeps the harsh midday light out. The contrast between the building’s brutal fabric and the sensitivity of the way it opens up to the light is incongruous in its setting – a wilderness where kangaroos hop through vineyards.
The 60-hectare site was progressively developed as a premium cool climate vineyard from 1996 to 2004 and now has around 32 hectares of vines. A site for a house was identified at the top of the hill looking north over the vineyard but also taking in view all around.
In 1996, architect John Denton purchased 150 acres of land—78 of them under vine—in the middle of the Yarra Valley, about an hour’s drive from Melbourne; think of it as Napa Valley’s Australian cousin. Denton, who founded the architecture firm Denton Corker Marshall in 1972, now produces chardonnay and pinot noir, among other grape varieties. He also designed a 3,500-square-foot steel-frame second home, completed in 2011, on top of the property’s one big hill.
The dramatic supporting cantilever defines the silhouette of Denton Corker Marshall Architects’ View Hill House, which looks out over the Yarra Valley winemaking region of Victoria. Once a series of farms strung out along the tracks through the valley on either side of the river, the Yarra Valley is now a thriving destination for food and wine.
One of the building’s storeys appears to hang dangerously and impressively over the other, creating a dramatic and visually-striking structure. The exterior of the lower storey is clad in pre-rusted steel and the upper storey has walls of black aluminium. Thick chipboard lines the interior walls and ceilings of both levels and the floor of the upper storey, while the lower storey features a shining concrete floor.
The space on ground floor is predominately designed for living, dining, and kitchen space, with bedrooms at either end. Upstairs houses two offices and another guest bedroom for the privacy of the occupants. The thought behind the planning appears to have been straightforward; to present controlled views so that the living area looks out over the vineyard. This is achieved by taking each end of the structural tubes and then by raising three panels on the side of the lower tube so that the mountains containing the valley on all sides offer a clear and preferable view.
The sticks which rest on the ground are made of rusting steel, whilst the sticks sitting on right angles on top are made from black aluminium. These sticks appear as very thin metal tubes with glass inset at each end. They are lined with a grey green stained OSB board, on the upper level its walls, ceilings and even the floor is lined – at ground level the floor is charcoal polished concrete. The ground level tube is 6m x 4m in cross-section so that the ceiling heights are 3.2m; the upper tube is 4m x 3m with 2.4m ceilings.
“When I found this piece of land,’ says John Denton, ‘I thought the top of the hill would be a fabulous place for a house.”
Project name: View Hill House + Vineyard
Location: Yarra Valley, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Type: Architects House, Holiday House, Modern House, Hill House, Steel House
Structural: steel portals with timber infill panels and roof trusses
Exterior cladding Materials: aluminium sheet, austenitic weathering steel
Site Area: 60-hectare
Gross Floor Area: 3500 sqf
Project Year: 2010
Completion Year: September 2011
- 2012 Architectural Recorded Awards – House of the month – August 2012
Client / Owner / Developer: John Denton
Architects: Denton Corker Marshall Architecture, 49 Exhibition Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000, Australia
Structural/civil Engineer: Burns Hamilton Pty Ltd.
Services: Sanderson Consultants Pty Ltd.
General contractor: Skate Constructions Pty Ltd
Text Description: © Courtesy of Denton Corker Marshall Architecture, WAN, archrecord
Images: © Tim Griffith, Julian Kingma