Dezeen Magazine

Charred timber exterior of Somers House by Kennedy Nolan

Kennedy Nolan covers L-shaped coastal home in charred timber

Rich hues and curving geometries feature throughout Somers House, an L-shaped coastal home that Australian studio Kennedy Nolan has added to a coastal site in Victoria.

Set in a small town named Somers on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula, the home was designed to offer a place of retreat for the client's family and features earthy colours chosen by the studio to evoke a sense of peace.

Blackened wood exterior of Somers House by Kennedy Nolan
Charred timber clads the exterior of Somers House

Aiming to create a weather-resilient exterior, Kennedy Nolan clad the home almost entirely in timber that was charred using the Japanese Shou Sugi Ban technique.

The dark timber-clad volumes are arranged around a central curved stairwell, which is nestled into the corner of the L-shaped plan. Coated in ochre-toned render, the rounded stairwell connects the levels of the home and is perforated with small rectangular windows.

Charred timber exterior of Somers House by Kennedy Nolan
The home is L-shaped in plan

"A central curved mass knuckle housing circulation grounds the design in the site, with more lightweight wings spreading out into the landscape," project architect Matilda Blazey told Dezeen.

"In the tradition of the Corbusian curve, a curved form is made more potent when sitting in tension beside a straight plane."

Courtyard at surrounded by a black timber and pink-toned house
A rounded stairwell was covered in ochre-toned render

Two perpendicular timber-clad wings extending from the sides of the stairwell contain the main rooms of the home, with one wing raised on columns to create space for a sheltered outdoor living area underneath.

A sweeping semicircular opening in the facade of the raised wing frames a bridge that connects the home's first-floor entrance to the sloping landscape.

Charred timber exterior of Somers House by Kennedy Nolan
One wing of the house was raised on columns to create a sheltered outdoor living space below

Across the walls of the other wing, the studio added a grid of timber columns that give a sense of rhythm to the home's exterior and often frame portions of glazing.

Inside, the studio arranged a series of public and private spaces with the aim of framing views of the ocean as well as offering smooth transitions between private and communal spaces.

Timber-clad living room with views of the sea at Somers House by Kennedy Nolan
Interior spaces have views of the nearby ocean

"The interior arrangement was based upon solving the problem of both capturing the northern aspect and southerly ocean views in the main living spaces," said Blazey.

"The spatial arrangement supports privacy and separation but makes coming together effortless and celebrated."

Across the interior spaces, the studio aimed to reflect the materiality of the home's exterior, adding materials and decorations that match the rich tones of the external finishes.

"For us, this house is a good example of an optimal outcome – a thoroughly designed object, a consistent design sensibility applied to all elements from the charred timber cladding to the placement of a lamp or table," the studio explained.

Textural materials including cork, raw brass, and earthy tiles feature across the walls of the hallways and bedrooms.

Timber-clad kitchen with wooden table and kitchen island and large windows views of the treetops
Douglas fir lines the kitchen walls and ceiling

"The earthy palette is derived from the ochres of Gija woman Queenie McKenzie – a response to our clients’ love of the saturated chromatic vitality of Luis Barragán," said the studio.

"Age will hone the aesthetic of this interior, burnishing a rich, tonal landscape, and ultimately making an unmistakably Australian coastal house," said the studio.

Bedroom with brown curtains covering a glass door leading outside
The interior was finished in an earthy colour palette to match the exterior

A semi-open kitchen, living, and dining space spans almost the entire length of the first level, bordering an entrance hall as well as an ensuite bedroom.

Deep-toned, oiled Douglas fir lines the walls and ceiling of the kitchen, complemented by dark furnishings and black floor tiles. Richly coloured additions, including gold lampshades and dark red chairs, help enhance the warm feel of the space.

Living room with an earth-toned colour palette at Somers House by Kennedy Nolan
The earthy colour palette was chosen to evoke a sense of peace

"We tempered the vivid colour and light play that Luis Barragán employs for an Australian condition and embedded it in an earthier, textured ochre palette that speaks to the Australian landscape and sensibility," said Blazey.

The top level of the home is set within one wing, where two bedrooms and a playroom extend over the landscape, while the home’s ground floor is spread across the other wing and features a smaller living space as well as a bedroom, bathroom and sauna.

Roof terrace with pink and black walls
The coastal home has a roof terrace

A roof terrace bordered by a zigzagging orange wall tops the home, with additional outdoor spaces arranged around the site, including a covered outdoor dining area set underneath the structure in a dipped portion of the garden.

Founded in 1999 by Patrick Kennedy and Rachel Nolan, Kennedy Nolan is a Melbourne-based studio focused on residential architecture.

Its past projects include an affordable housing block made from ochre-tinted precast concrete and an Arts and Crafts-informed home in Melbourne.

The photography is by Derek Swalwell.

More images and plans

Ground floor plan of Somers House by Kennedy Nolan
Ground floor plan
First floor plan of Somers House by Kennedy Nolan
First floor plan
Second floor plan of Somers House by Kennedy Nolan
Second floor plan
Charred timber exterior of Somers House by Kennedy Nolan
Charred timber exterior of Somers House raised on columns by Kennedy Nolan
Rounded red render structure with square windows
Charred timber exterior of Somers House by Kennedy Nolan
Charred timber exterior of the two-storey Somers House by Kennedy Nolan
Charred timber exterior of the two-storey Somers House by Kennedy Nolan
Charred timber exterior of Somers House by Kennedy Nolan surrounded by trees
Charred timber exterior of Somers House with a circle window
Corridor with a red door and oculus
Red render and black timber house
Hats on hooks on a wallpapered wall
Pink and terracotta-toned walk-in shower room
Pink and terracotta-toned bathroom with a black sink
Bedroom with glazed walls and wood shelving
Study with grey flooring and wood-lined walls and ceiling
Lounge area with glazed walls, timber sealing and sheer curtains
Kitchen with wood-lined ceiling, wall cupboards, island and gold pendant lamp shades
Interior room with terracotta-toned ceiling and blackened wood walls
Maroon desk and chair in a pink-toned wallpapered room
Kitchen with gold pendant light shades over a wood islands
Lounge space with a chair, concrete statement wall and patterned rug
Walk-in shower with terracotta timber walls
Bedroom with white timber walls and wood shelving
Rood terrace with one black timber wall and a zig-zagging ochre wall
Kitchen with wood-lined walls and ochre units
White sink in a timber bathroom
Ochre-toned wood door
Charred timber exterior of Somers House by Kennedy Nolan
Garden overlooking the sea
Kitchen with wood units and island with dark grey tiled sides
Timber-clad kitchen with wooden table and gold pendant lights
Cushioned seating nook lined with light blue-painted timber
Stairwell in a rounded ochre-rendered structure