by Neometro

Mori House | Chapter 1 – Building A Ruin of the Future.

Arts & Events, Design - by Open Journal

January 5th, 2022.

On Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, a collection of cubist form in-situ concrete is beginning to take form. Architecturally, the emerging building has its genesis in ancient built forms. A cruciform layout, informed by centuries old structural icons, converges with an intuitive conceptual approach honouring the practice of living and its particular intricacies in the context of an Australian beach house.


The vision for Mori House began through a collaboration between architect and client. Jeff and Mariko Provan engaged Portuguese architect Manuel Aires Mateus whose work as been likened to “building ruins of the future.” This intent resonated with Jeff and Mariko’s aspiration for an enduring beach house that would yield to an aesthetic harmony within its coastal landscape whilst unifying the trilogy of Jeff’s passion for architecture that wears in as opposed to out, Mariko’s Japanese origins and sentiments and Manuel’s aptitude for realising buildings that respond to the conditions of time, inhabitant/s, environment and use.


“This idea of designing spaces to be lived in was very interesting ” states Manuel when he speaks of the very first conversations around how Mori House would later emerge. Jeff and Mariko had discussed the need for a beach house with spaces to cook, work, sleep, rest and wash, a 5-pronged concept Manuel had long embraced in his own work and with students of architecture he teaches back at home in Lisbon. This discovery of like-mindedness is something that has guided the design development and construction of the project so seamlessly that there have been very few changes since the first drawings arrived in Jeff’s inbox in 2019.  

Mori House | drone footage
“Whilst there’s a definite Aires Mateus program, the simplicity and complexity of the building is all based around the crucifix form off the centre of the site defined by a skylight, and four spatial aspects which are based around Villa Rotunda in Venice by Andrea Palladio, laid over the tatami grid of the Katsura Palace in Japan.” – Jeff Provan



“The brief was based around functions and the notion that this always needed to remain a beach shack,” says Jeff. “It’s quite different from a normal house. There are a number of things that probably would be a bit awkward if you were living here full time.” This thought process has manifested as a collection of four closely connected yet distinctly separate buildings – a studio, two bedrooms and the main living space around which each element orbits. A lack of formality has been wrought from both the fluidity of the buildings layout verses the independent placement of built sections, and the material selection which is anchored by monolithic sections of in-situ concrete tempered by accoya timber operable screens which occupy thresholds not only between inside and out, but also as part of the interior schematics which remain flexible to different uses. 

Imbued with a fundamental acknowledgment for those aspects of beachside living which remain, irrespective of time, trend or function, Mori House is being shaped by complexities in the guise of visual simplicity. An impression of clarity, ease and lightness lays upon the robust structures in such a way that the beach house seems to be assuming a form that was always meant to be. From the four considered garden spaces, flat expanse of rooftop which takes in the entirety of Port Phillip Bay and Melbourne’s city skyline in the distance, orientation, and “eyebrow” eaves (which are each subtly different depths in response to the suns path as it tracks across long summer or short winter days), Mori House stands apart from yet bound by history to occupy a place that will become a depository for a century of languid family holidays soaked in nostalgia and the unchanging comfort that buildings of endurance harbour. 

Mori House is still taking shape as part of an ever-evolving design through an ongoing collaboration between Neometro, Aires Mateus and MAArchitects. 

Words | Tiffany Jade

Photography | Derek Swalwell


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