In 1996, architect John Denton purchased 150 acres of land—78 of them under vine—in the middle of the Yarra Valley, about an hour’s drive from Melbourne; think of it as Napa Valley’s Australian cousin. Denton, who founded the architecture firm Denton Corker Marshall in 1972, now produces chardonnay and pinot noir, among other grape varieties. He also designed a 3,500-square-foot steel-frame second home, completed in 2011, on top of the property’s one big hill.
Surrounded by the mountains of the Great Dividing Range, Denton’s sculptural, telescopic house combines two simple rectilinear volumes, one balancing perpendicularly atop the other and cantilevering 29 feet to the south and 19 to the north. The lower bar is clad in Cor-Ten steel, while the upper is wrapped in black powder-coated aluminum. Both are lined on the interior with green-stained oriented strand board made from pine-milling leftovers. Perforated steel panels conceal the long window in the ground-floor living/dining area—these 13-by-12-foot panels lift up in three sections to become a pergola. The panels were a tricky construction feat because their electric motors had to be concealed within the ceiling. The doors had to operate in high winds, but managed to have minimal framing, says Denton.