Named ‘Lookout house’, this small modular design by architect David Luck is as much an expression of Australians’ struggle with landscape as one of modern Australian architecture.
The ‘floating’ black structure sits determinedly among the surrounding sheoak and messmate bushland. In an essay on the home, Luck makes poetic reference to the building as “a black box of the mind that locks into the emotional landform of ancient Australia”. This powerful description shows that the Lookout house was never meant to blend into its surroundings.
Conceived as the destination of a journey from the centre of Melbourne, the Lookout house sits atop Red Hill on the Mornington Peninsula.
A gradual sloping ramp draws the visitor in past the bedroom and kitchen to the back pavilion. An 8m-long glass box creates the kitchen, which Luck describes as “an aquarium workspace for dwelling”, further connecting the home to the canopy of trees beyond.
Quite ironically perhaps, the Lookout house doesn’t observe expansive views across Port Phillip Bay or the farmland to the north-east, but rather invites you to look inward and capture framed, choreographed glimpses of the natural bushland outside.
The expanses of steel and glass create a simple aesthetic that the architect refers to as ‘shadows’ strung between the surrounding stringybarks, while at night the black interiors become one with the night, punctuated by injections of colour in the form of modular furniture, light timbers and the inhabitants themselves.
The award-winning home has been used to exemplify the modern Australian relationship between Architecture, landscape and history. More than creating just a house, through this building, Luck is asking us to explore themes of ownership, place and self.
“In this project an uneasy relationship with landscape is described. Silent, blind, visually connected yet emotionally detached.”
We encourage you to read David Luck’s full essay on Lookout house here, and to explore the architect’s own home in issue 07 of Habitus magazine.
(Incidentally, if you’re interested in owning this piece of contemporary Australian design, the property is currently for sale through RT Edgar Real Estate.)
Photography: Cathryn Tremayne