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MGAO’s Wye River House Rises From The Ashes

Wye River House, Victoria, AU / MGAO

Paul Hermes

Australian firm MGAO was commissioned to replace one of the 116 homes lost in an out control bush fire swept through Wye River, a small township located along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia, on Christmas day 2015. The site is located on a steeply sloping block, obliquely facing Bass Straight. Perched high on the hillside, the Wye River House sits where a tree canopy once stood, anxiously awaiting the regrowth of the surrounding bushland.

 Wye River House, Victoria, AU / MGAO

The buildings form loosely references the many of the local beach shacks built during the ’60s-’70s. The rational forms of these structures, expressed with simple construction methods and common materials produce a modest, humble quality to the village.

The reference can be seen through the use of a Skillion Roof, cantilevered balconies, simple rectangular footprint, clear structural approach, and continuing the external cladding to the ground – which creates a slightly monolithic form (like a little beach shack tower) and highlights the steep slope of the site.

 Wye River House, Victoria, AU / MGAO

The addition of large areas of glazing to frame the amazing views, and the need to clad the structure in BAL40 compliant materials are possibly the only ‘modern’ additions to this old typology. This project aims to continue that legacy. Upon approach, the building presents an impenetrable skin, yet once inside the building gradually opens itself up, revealing the stunning view toward the ocean and the village beyond, seen through a foreground of mature trees which the clients fought to save.

 Wye River House, Victoria, AU / MGAO Wye River House, Victoria, AU / MGAO Wye River House, Victoria, AU / MGAO