Wetlands House

Services: Editorial

Client: Green Magazine
Services: Editorial

Jo Fowler remembers the moment her husband Chris discovered the site of their new home in Merricks on Melbourne’s Mornington Peninsula 30 years ago. At the time they were running their local roofing business and Chris was called in by a builder friend renovating the 70-year-old weatherboard ‘bush build’ on the site of the district’s former dairy. “He stood on the roof and said, ‘Wow. One day I’d love to live in a place like this’,” she says.

It took a couple of decades for their dream block to come onto the market, but as soon as it did, Jo and Chris nabbed it and set to work. Chris is an avid gardener, and in 2016 they planted a lush productive garden with fruit trees, established a greenhouse, stables for their horses and a boatshed that they would live in during construction. They also assembled a crack team of local tradespeople who creatively navigated the difficulties of a 2020 lockdown build to create a home of extraordinary materials and craftsmanship.

The block slopes steeply downwards from south-west to north-east with panoramic views particularly eastward. Jo and Chris wanted a robust, earthy, energy-efficient house of natural materials, including stone salvaged from the property, and as much timber as the termites left untouched. It needed to age beautifully, use water wisely, and nestle down into a naturalistic landscape well protected from ferocious southerlies.