In Focus

Tastemakers with Peter Maddison

Peter Maddison Cornet Grove Portrait
Teleisha Thomas

Teleisha Thomas

September 2023
Deans House01

Behind the build: A mid-century inspired icon by the beach

Architect, Host of Grand Designs Australia, and practice Founding Director, Peter Maddison of Maddison Architects is one of Australia’s most recognisable faces in building design and architecture.

Maddison Architects’ design ethos is rooted in a contemporary approach, whilst considering the importance of the environmental impact of architecture as mandatory, not an optional extra. In each project, Maddison Architects strives to create buildings that integrate superior energy and environmental performance. Nowhere is this more apparent than in one of Peter’s recent designs in Melbourne’s bayside area. Peter gave us a tour of the home and here he shares the key architectural principles employed, as well as how he responded to his client’s brief in the final design.

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The importance of an interactive streetscape

The home has been built with a nod to classic design principles, and the way the house relates to the street is very much endemic with the adventurous spirit of the mid-century modernist that created a lot of experiential buildings in the bayside area.

The way the home addresses the street is very much in tune with the native landscape of the area. In comparison to a typical residential home with a front fence that butts up directly against the footpath, we’ve taken over the verge with a lovely variety of native landscaping, giving back to the street and public domain.


One of the designs we employed was to try and build the excitement of the house through a sense of release and compression. As you look at the home from the streetscape, the release occurs above through a hovering cantilevered living room that juts out over the driveway.

Simultaneously, when one arrives at the front door, the canopy comes down very low – so much so that you can almost reach up and touch it. Then, there is an amazing sense of compression as you enter the house, juxtaposed with the feeling of release thanks to the two-story void above. These elements contribute to a feeling of anticipation, spatial experience, and excitement within the home.

These elements contribute to a feeling of anticipation, spatial experience, and excitement within the home.

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Housing materials that resonate

Materials-wise, the home predominantly consists of stack bond stone, zinc-clad and timber. We chose these materials as they are designed to withstand the salt and marine environment that this house sits in, given the beach is only a few hundred meters away. The timber battens have been stained and left unpainted, resulting in the texture of the timber being able to express itself in its most natural form.

In keeping with the connection to street and landscape, one of the tricks of the mid-century modernist that we’ve employed here is bringing the landscape from the outside all the way through to the inside through material selection. Exterior materials such as the concrete blocks from the façade run through into the entrance area and right up through the building.

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Interior design and detailing

Engineering ingenuity and notes of coastal living appear in the interior design and detailing of the home. To capture the best of the block of land, we designed a logically planned, two-storey house, broken into two components. On the living space side is the elevated and cantilevered viewing platform which is all about maximising light and emphasising the 270-degree views out towards the bay. On the other side is the masonry section, housing the bedrooms, laundry, and bathrooms.

When one arrives at the top of the stairs, you tumble into the heart of the home, the kitchen. The large kitchen island bench aligns with the room itself and leads down to an enormous window overlooking the bay. One key design detail is the line that has been cut into the kitchen bench that aligns with another piece of joinery across the other side of the room. This then redirects your sight line down to a little peekaboo study, perched above the entrance area and overlooking Port Phillip Bay – a wonderful spot to take your daily Zoom calls!

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Harnessing an incredible vista

Of course, one of the major design criteria for our clients was to capture the incredible views out over Port Phillip Bay – from Point Nepean right over to the Bellarine. Whether it is day or night, it really is the most stunning feature of the home.

We have achieved this through floor to ceiling windows and a small balcony that stretches across the entire living side of the home. One of the architectural tricks to emphasise the connection to the horizon line in the ocean that we’ve implemented is bringing the balustrade on the balcony up to a very fine folded edge, and simultaneously bringing the eave lining down to another fine edge. These horizontal lines compresses and beautifully frame the view. The other advantage to adding a balustrade, is allow practical access to the glass windows, which is important considering the saline environment that this building sits in, as it needs regular cleaning!

Peter Maddison

Maddison Architects specialises in architectural and interior design for residential and commercial projects.

Visit their website to learn more about their ethos and previous works.

Watch the Tastemakers series with Peter Maddison below.

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