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Cape Schanck by Studio Goss

We’re no stranger to the elegant design eye of David Goss, having commissioned his multi-disciplinary practice Studio Goss to bring the spatial incarnations of our brand to life across all six Armadillo showrooms. Their latest project is a residential wonder perched on the coast of the Mornington Peninsula – a series of strong yet serene courtyard spaces that capture the enigmatic beauty of natural and ambient light.

Photography by William-Dirk du Toit

Tell us a bit about your career path. How did Studio Goss come to be?

After initially studying Industrial Design, I moved on to Architecture, then worked at Wood Marsh for close to 10 years. It was a great team with some incredible mentors, and I gained some really valuable experience, but eventually I felt the desire to take the leap and explore my own practice.

How would you describe your ethos as an architect and interior designer?

We create spaces that we hope make people feel comfortable and uplifted. Our work tries not to shout but at the same strives for clarity and a sense of purity. Building is such a collaborative experience and I think it is important to embrace this and find joy in the process.

From its exterior to within, Cape Shanck is unlike any other abode we’ve seen. What was your brief for the project?

The brief was for a four-bedroom family house that would capture views of the spectacular site, with a robust design that would respond to the ruthless weather. Conceptually, we approached the design as a vessel to accept and manipulate daylight. A robust volume that would create a sense of permanence with materials and textures that would age and weather gracefully, embedding the house into the landscape.

Give us a little insight into your design process, and how you wove in environmental considerations along the way.

The design brings a sense of refuge and a connection to the natural environment to the inhabitants. Key considerations included orientation to sunsets, shelter from extreme winds and an awareness of the abundance of snakes on the property. Given the site had no town water or sewerage, the proposed design needed to be somewhat self-sufficient in terms of services.

The key materials are the textured brick, a Carbon Neutral product from Krause Bricks, and the solid blackbutt timber, sourced locally through sustainably managed forests and selected for its durability and ability to withstand fire. The timber was treated with a natural wood protection solution to give it an even weathered and aged appearance that beautifully blends into the environment. And all surfaces that the user touches or interacts with on the project are in timber, metal, stone or leather – there are no plastic switches. 

Cape Shanck is minimal but in no way lacking interest. How did you achieve that balance?

It's all in the edit! Our design process involved [Studio Goss architect] Hamish Collins and I spending countless hours testing various iterations, stripping away anything that felt unnecessary but ensuring there were still strong, textured elements that captured light well and created some presence. The same process applied to the interiors and furniture selection, which we saw as an extension of the main material palette.

How did any lifestyle needs affect your design choices?

The project balances dual uses as a quiet place to escape the city but also acts as a place to congregate, celebrate and embrace family life. We integrated a range of courtyard spaces, with a large courtyard between the two main house volumes that includes an outdoor fireplace, outdoor kitchen, lounge and dining areas. The kitchen was placed at the center of the home as a large space for the family to entertain – all living areas radiate off this central zone. A smaller, second living area located in the family wing can be closed off with concealed doors for privacy if needed. Contained within the master bedroom wing is a timber-lined study that allows the users to work from home and utilizes hidden doors to add a layer of privacy and retreat.

"The house feels like it is embedded in the landscape."

Your client was Nicci Kavals, founder of Articolo. Given her expertise in lighting, how did you work together to play with the natural light and shadow, as well as curate some bespoke fixtures?

Given we'd worked on a wide range of projects with Nicci, there was a great sense of trust and intuition which meant it was easier to express ideas about how both natural light and lighting fixtures could become integral to how the space is experienced. The design of the bespoke light fixtures grew out of the idea of wanting to create a layer of interest without pulling too much attention and maintaining a sense of calm and cohesiveness to each room. Hence, we designed a range of fittings that could be customized to match the wall finish with a soft halo of light, or a contrasting cast-glass shade that echoes the texture and warmth of the handmade clay tiles.

We’re honored that our rugs made their way into this project. For you, what considerations are front of mind when selecting rugs to work back with a space?

For us it starts with trying to work out if we want the rug to create a gentle layer of texture that works effortlessly with the entire space or if we want to dial things up a bit and create some contrast to really anchor the furniture.

Whether it’s an entire room or a tiny detail, is there an element of this home that stands out as a favorite?

This is a hard as there are so many special moments to discover as you explore the house but for me it’s a toss-up between the dramatic skylights in the bathrooms and the custom brass entry handle!

The handle was a real joy to create and led to an ongoing friendship with the craftsman Durwin Lamb of Custom Industrial.

How do you hope this home will endure and evolve over time?

Over time the landscape should grow and evolve to really make the house feel like it is embedded in the landscape. The timbers will go even more silver, the natural materials will patina gracefully; but I hope that even if the furnishings change and adapt over time, there is still at its heart a sense of calm and elegance to the house.