Phil McKern estimates as many as 20 cars a day on weekends have stopped to watch the progress of his new home on the corner of Mandurang Road and Tannery Lane, and many of his friends have suggested the house would have been a perfect candidate for the BBC series Grand Designs.
The last of the palm trees that are a feature of the grounds arrived and were planted this week which will leave Mr McKern and his family, 18-year-old Lachlan and 14-year-old Ashlee, free to enjoy their new home.
Despite the cold weather, Mr McKern said he was making good use of breezeways and outdoor areas that the house design have made functional.
He said entertaining and outdoor living were key parts of the initial brief he provided to Bendigo-based Bree Architects.
“I wanted a big house, something that really stood out, something for entertaining and I have two children living with me so
I wanted separate areas. It has also got a home office,” Mr McKern said.
He also had an idea about the look of the grounds based on a holiday he spent at Hamilton Island, of palm trees bordering native bushland.
Architects Joost and Johanne van Bree decided to frame that view.
They included in the design a 16-metre spanning concrete beam marking the boundary between the back terrace and the pool.
The feature, and the span of concrete that comprises the entire upper floor of the house, are an engineering feat, according to Mr van Bree.
There are no posts interrupting the view.
“I would call it a contemporary version of a modernist building, all the sleek lines and the planar of the different levels,” he said.
“But stylistically we respond to the brief, and the site, and bring it all together.
“This building is kind of unique in Bendigo, it is unique in its stucture because if you took away all the paraphernalia, there are only a couple of things holding that floor up, it is cantilevering out from the central structure and lots of attention has gone into allowing that concrete to span, allowing it to be seamless.”
The expanse of lawn across the site, including on a ramp covering the lowest floor, makes the entire building seem to extend to the horizon, like it is part of the landscape, not sitting on it.
But inside, the house feels surprisingly intimate and warm thanks to the use of timber particularly as a ceiling feature, and varying room heights that demarcate spaces, including the kitchen, in otherwise open plan living.
The highest ceilings in the house are literally the sky, with part of an outdoor room on the ground floor opening through an automated louvred ceiling, and living space on the roof which can also support a garden.
Ms van Bree said the palette of materials was simple and clean, primarily timber, grey block and exposed concrete.
“It is a very robust building but the timbers internally and externally bring the warmth and character to the home,” she said.