MACDONALD ROAD HOUSE MEET THE OWNERS
Adam and Kerry Mason knew exactly what they wanted when downsizing: an energyefficient home with passive solar design. To make their dream a reality, they joined forces with Philip Stejskal Architecture. Stephanie McGann catches up with the Masons about living in their new home and working with Phil.
Stephanie McGann Could you tell me a little about yourselves and what you wanted in your new home?
Adam Mason Kerry and I have been renovating houses together since the late 1980s and we’ve gained a great deal of experience in energyefficient and passive solar design. I’m technically orientated and Kerry did studies in the 1990s, through which we came across the ideas behind passive solar design. It made a lot of sense to us. We’re downsizing with this house and we wanted a very energy-efficient home that we can age in, which gives us all the spaces we need now and are likely to need in the future. We wanted a home that was built to engage and work with the sun, rather than oppose it. Where we’re at now is the culmination of 30 years of hard work and we’re ecstatic about it.
Kerry Mason I like to live simply – I don’t need an enormous kitchen or a huge walk-in wardrobe. I wanted a minimal home that was beautiful and timeless and would remain attractive over a long period of time.
SM That sentiment certainly comes through in spades in this house.
AM We’ve watched the house grow and we’re here every day. I would love to have experienced walking in here for the first time, having never seen it before.
SM Given your extensive renovation experience, what led you to engage an architect on this project and what attracted you to Philip Stejskal Architecture in particular?
AM It was the desire to build something different, something timeless.
KM We like things that are well designed. We found Philip online and his reviews said that he’s a very good communicator, which is important to us. And it was so collaborative. Philip was open to our ideas and willing to listen to us.
SM What was it about your first meeting with Philip that reassured you that you would work well together?
AM Just a connection. You know when things are right, don’t you? Intuition, I suppose. In my research, I’d come across people who were advertising the fact that they were specialists in passive solar design, but I looked at their designs and they didn’t appeal to me. I thought, “I need to find someone who can give me the design I want while embedding the foundations of passive solar design.” I loved Phil’s work and I felt that we connected early on.
SM What are you most proud of in this project? AM I’m proud to live in an architect-designed home that everybody seems to love. It’s an achievement for us both and a testament to our hard work – we’ve spent most of our weekends for the past 30 years working on our homes, researching, reading and learning.
KM It’s just a beautiful house to come home to. AM It really has surpassed our expectations.
SM As you go about living in this house, what elements bring you the most delight?
KM The light. It’s a small home, yet it feels open and connected to the garden.
AM The light we get through the house in winter is extraordinary. I love the connection to Applecross Retirement Village over the road as well. You can hear people chattering and laughing in the background – everyone’s always in a good mood over there.
SM Are there aspects of the design that you might not have imagined had you not worked with Phil and the team?
KM The shape of the house, definitely. We were puzzling for a long time about how we were going to get the house to face north on this site. Phil came up with the floor plan and when he presented it to us, I was thinking, “Are we brave enough?” because it was so different.
SM What advice would you give someone who is thinking about engaging an architect?
AM I think it’s important to be well informed and to make it clear to the architect what you’re trying to achieve. We had no idea what our house was going to look like but we had some solid ideas about things we wanted incorporated into the design and we were able to confidently leave the rest to Phil and his team. It was a collaborative project and if we didn’t like something, we felt we could say so.
SM Would you use an architect again?
KM Definitely. An architect brings incredible value. You wouldn’t achieve the same level of building and detail without one.
AM If you want something different, then very much so.