Buxton Rise

Buxton Rise

The Buxton house is a bush retreat overlooking the Black Range State Forest 100km north east of Melbourne.

Format Architects’ brief was to design a house for a weekend getaway on a 20 hectare property located near the foot of the Cathedral Range state park just outside the township of Buxton.

The house had to be responsive to the site, simple to construct, inexpensive to build, and efficient to run.

The Format Architects scheme saw the house defined by a large and deep overhanging roof designed to offer shade and protection from the elements.

The plan was arranged around a glass walled open plan living and dining area facing north, a rendered masonry walled sleeping zone to the south, and outdoor areas defined by the cantilevered roof to the east and west.

The roof was constructed of a grid of deep laminated veneer lumber beams exposed and expressed in the ceiling.

The simple order, restrained detailing, and a palette of warm internal materials including polished plaster walls, plywood ceilings, and exposed aggregate concrete floors lends the house a calm and relaxed feel.

The landscape and topography are diverse and includes ridge lines, valleys with ephemeral water courses, remnant clusters of native vegetation, and cleared grazing land.

The site is unique and beautiful.

That’s why Format Architects located and designed the new building to protect and enhance the natural landscape.

The house features internal and external natural lime hard plaster walls with a rendered finish to create a unique, smooth, and slightly imperfect patina that suits the simplicity of the house design and reflects the beauty of the natural landscape.

When light hits the wall surface it reflects to convey an intense tactile quality.

Format Architects kept the range of materials to a minimum, eliminating minor materials and extraneous detail.

Naturally sealed timber windows and joinery was used including sustainably sourced plywood ceiling panels, exposed and laminated timber beams, and cast on-site concrete floors using locally sourced river rock, aggregate, and sand.

Format Architects’ design revolves around the idea of simple living.

Principal Martin Rubenstein enjoyed integrating some informal ideas into the project. For example, the utilitarian kitchen is designed like a traditional farmhouse kitchen where family activity and kitchen work are integrated in one big room with a huge dining table in the middle.

This open spatial arrangement is followed through in the detailing where open and continuous cantilevered wall shelves allow a single wall finish to flow uninterrupted throughout the entire living space.

Spatial continuity and continuity of surface is a key design feature of this house as it lends a quiet unity and calm of the whole.

The house is designed as a single level in an elevated position with the back slightly cut into the hill.

This allows the front of the house to sit on grade providing unfettered access outside and a strong visual connection to the land from inside.

The budget was tight so the house is relatively compact at just under 180m2.

It includes an open plan living/dining/kitchen space, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a laundry and storage,

But the spatial arrangement and constant visual connection to the outside makes the house feel much bigger.

Every room has a view out into the landscape.

There are spaces designed for late evening sun or sunny spots in the morning.

Occupants can track the light throughout the day.

Winter sun penetration is achieved by facing a large open-plan glass living, dining, and kitchen area to the north, east and west.

This area is open to the views and centred spatially around a three-sided glass firebox.

Summer sun is controlled by a massive overhanging roof comprising a grid of 600mm deep secretly joined timber roof beams.

The roof’s presence is felt throughout the house, enhancing the sense of shelter.

Project Details

Project size – 180 m2
Completion date – 2019
Building levels – 1

Project Team

Architecture and Interiors

Format Architects

Format Architects is led by architect Martin Rubenstein. Martin believes in encouraging green sustainable building and design and makes the best use of the circumstances presented by each project.

His working method involves consultation and communication with the client and the project team to ensure clarity and efficiency.



Ernesto Arriagada

Ernesto is an accomplished architectural and interiors photographer. Connect with him on Instagram.


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Design © 2020 Format Architects. All Rights Reserved.| Images © 2020 Ernesto Arriagada. All Rights Reserved.

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