Melbourne-based firm Architects EAT establish a family sanctuary in the heart of Flinders, Victoria with a deep connection to both people and place.
Architects EAT’s Bellows House is a narrative within itself, from its shell to its core; an obscure expression of bleached concrete and pyramid-like roofs on the outside and an ode to both the coastal landscape and contemporary art on the inside. Coined by locals as the ‘Pyramids of Flinders’, it’s difficult not to be captivated by the home’s unusual facade, provoking the question: what could be inside? The interior is worth the anticipation: two colossal skylights, experimental tones, and a charcuterie board of materials and textures.
The Bellows House owners named it after an old antique ‘Bellows Camera’. With their reverse-step configuration, the central skylights resemble the pleated sides of the camera; and like a camera, they draw light deep into the home. The light then alters the colour of the concrete throughout each day and season, rendering the interior an image of time passing by.
The heaviness of the skylights’ internal structures makes their minimal exteriors feel like eggshells in comparison, Architects EAT co-director Albert Mo says. Looking upon the house – at the riddle of these concrete pyramids – you become a party to the Bellows House narrative. “Architecture is about engagement,” Albert says, “it generates discussion, whether you hate it or love it.”
Architects EAT are known for evoking curiosity and engagement through their expressive street vistas. Establishing a dialogue like this between the architecture and the observer is one way the Bellows House can maintain a connection to people. As you pass by and see the shadows animate the cut-out concrete bricks, it urges you to respond.
In an interview with est, Albert reflected on concrete being one of their favourite materials to work with. “The art of using concrete to create architecture requires technology, engineering and craftsmanship to work together simultaneously,” he said. “It is timeless and robust – after all, this is what created the Roman Empire.”
The home is also designed to enrich the lives of the family that live there. “We wanted a house that would provide a sense of escape for the family; a house that the kids could reminisce about their summer holidays when they grow up,” Albert says. So many of the spaces in the house have been conceived to create memorable shared experiences: open living and dining spaces, an outdoor courtyard with a fireplace and sitting area, a kid’s bunk-bed room, an outdoor shower for washing off the sand and salt from the sea. It is a world away from the city, anchored to its location, formulating in the process an innate sense of stability and endurability.
The Bellows House by Architects EAT is a home away from home, serving as both a retreat and a reminder to regularly engage with what’s around you.