Yarra Valley, Australia

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.

Inside the house, the bars are divided into simple boxlike rooms according to “service blocks.” The living and dining area on the ground floor and the main office on the second floor look out over the vineyard to the north. The bedrooms contained in each end of the lower bar and the southern end of the upper bar amplify views of the valley and the surrounding mountains.

Denton says that View Hill House is a continuation of his exploration of architecture as land art, citing, among other examples, the firm’s Marshall House, a series of walls buried in the dunes in Victoria, Australia.


Location: Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia

Completion Date: September 2011

Gross square footage: 3500

Owner: John Denton

Denton Corker Marshall
49 Exhibition Street
Melbourne  Victoria 3000 Australia
+61 3 9209 3600

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Burns Hamilton Pty Ltd – structural/civil
Sanderson Consultants Pty Ltd – services

General contractor:
Skate Constructions Pty Ltd

Tim Griffith




Structural system
Slab: pigmented concrete slab
Lower level: structural steel portals with timber infill panels and roof trusses
Upper level: structural steel warren trusses with timber stud frame infill panels, timber floor joists and composite timber roof trusses.

Exterior cladding
Metal Panels:
Lower level: 'Bluescope Xlerplate AS/NZS 1594 - HW350' (austenitic weathering steel) panelling 3mm
Upper level: aluminium sheet 3mm panelling, powdercoated black

'CSR Cemintel Residential Expresswall' 8mm on stud frame infill

Moisture barrier:
‘Tyvek Enercor’ breathable foil laminate

Built-up roofing:
‘Ardex Butynol’ membrane,1.5mm grey, on 19mm plywood

Metal frame:
Slot windows and ventilation panels: ‘Aneeta HS300+’ horizontal sliders
Sliding doors:  Sky-Frame (Switzerland) assemblies

Sky-Frame (Switzerland) assemblies: 6-18-6 IGUs
General glass: 10.38-12-10.38 IGUs

Upswinging doors, other:
North elevation screens: perforated steel (see cladding) panels mounted to pivoting structural steel frames driven by electric actuators.  Designed and constructed by Advanced Design Innovations Pty Ltd.

d line - handles
Modric - latches
Abloy Protec - cylinders
d line - door stops
Modric - drop bolts

Security devices:
‘Gira door station + home station’

Other special hardware:
‘Dorma’ pivots + offset pivot assemblies

Interior finishes
Paints and stains:
Plasterboard: Dulux Vivid White
Kitchen vertical surfaces: two pack polyurethane Dulux Vivid White
also see panelling

JNL Strandboard 18mm for walls + upper level floor; 13mm ceiling paneling; Blue Gum stain and matt clear polyurethane finish.

Solid surfacing:
Lower level wet areas: Corian Glacier White

Special surfacing:
Entry stair panel: aluminium plate paneling 6mm, non directional linish.
Bench tops: stainless steel plate 6mm

Floor and wall tile:
Lower level wet areas: Lapege Grigio Perlato 18" stone tiles

Resilient flooring:
Upper level wet areas (floors): Forbo Safestep R11 2mm black

Special interior finishes unique to this project:
Lower level floor finish: ProGrind HiPERFLOO’ concrete polishing

Office furniture:
Vitra A-Table Van Severen collection
Vitra studio chair Van Severen collection

B&B Italia Charles lounge

B&B Italia le Bambole armchairs and ottomans
 Fritz Hansen Series 7 dining chairs

Custom built tables
Vitra Kast 2005 Storage unit Van Severen collection

Other furniture:
B&B Italia Sienna beds

Zumtobel MICROS LED downlights
Erco Quintessence wall washers
Zumtobel ARCOS projector

Bega downlight + flood lighting

Cosmic wash basins + upper level bathroom shower tray
Vola tapware
Hasngrohe shower heads
Kaldewe’ bath
Flaminia pans + bidets
d line bathroom hardware

Energy management or building automation system:
Heating and cooling system: custom system air-to-water heat pump connected to lower level hydronic floor coils, an upper level hydronic panel and custom air handling units on both levels.
System control: Clipsal C-Bus
System management: Wiser Home Controller touch screen interface and iPhone/iPad interface

Other unique products that contribute to sustainability:
The house is connected to a dual piping system connected to two 22,500 litre potable (rain water) tanks for potable water and a single 6,700 litre pumped dam water tank for toilet flushing.  There is no town water supply.