Recently I had the good fortune to visit Glenn Murcutt’s Magney House, completed in 1984 on the South Coast of NSW.
The house was constructed on former coastal farm land at Bingie Bingie which is relatively wild and undeveloped like much of the South Coast. In the nearly three decades since it was constructed the regrowth of site vegetation is clear to see whilst the house is little changed.
The Magney house appears to be pivotal in Murcutt’s work, or at least it articulates key themes and ideas that characterise his architecture: the elongated rectangular plan no more than one room deep; the related development of a cross section which carefully makes specific spaces of the sole room and its attendant passageway; the steel frame tectonic expressed with correlated layers of a metal and glass exterior envelope and the emphatically expressed shade and roofing devices that moderate the exterior weather elements to be benefit of the interior.
This key Murcutt house also includes an “external” room which supports outdoor living out of the wind but in touch with the sun and the view. The effect of this space on the plan is liberating – it overturns a conventional model of domestic enclosure and posits a much more refined and spatially diverse alternative.