Get down with Christopher Megowan
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Meet Christopher Megowan, director of M – A, an architecture firm specialising in residential projects. We spoke to Chris about his approach to architecture and design, and the spaces that exist within and around the structure of a house. “We are not only creating walls and a roof,” Chris says. “It is the space in and around those walls that is of even greater value.”
Chris established M – A in 2012, chasing his goal and dream of working for himself on small-scale residential projects. “I felt that I had a better chance to explore some of the early ideas and materials I was interested in if I had the control that running your own show offers,” he says. Chris quickly moved from bathroom renovations to larger residential projects, ranging from extensions and alterations to multi-storey apartment buildings and bespoke private residences.
He describes his approach to architecture as “equal levels of pragmatism and optimism.” By understanding the many variables and constraints early in the design process – such as negotiating an irregular or tight site – he can then create design solutions that “bring delight, surprise and cohesion,” Chris describes. “We enjoy the puzzle of resolving complex designs that respond to often-challenging sites, and I take particular pride in the way our designs maximise space both in plan and section and the way that we design very intentionally for natural light and orientation.”
M – A’s Two Angle House, for example, is oriented for views across Port Philip Bay and Mornington Peninsula National Park, as well as for capturing the sunrise and sunset. Ceiling heights, windows and materials are varied to create spaciousness, draw the eye to the view and bring in natural light, and interior spaces are designed for flexible and adaptable furniture layouts. “It’s not unusual for us to design a building from the inside out, but the exterior always informs the interior, and vice versa,” Chris says. This holistic approach ensures a dialogue between the architectural structure and interior space – particularly volumes and material palette – as the two are inextricably linked.
In Pleated House, the material palette is thematic throughout the interior and exterior with charred timber cladding (shou sugi ban) on the outside and grooved timber on the inside to complement the weatherboard of the existing house. The client manually burnt the cypress cladding to create a beautifully textured, silver-ebony finish. The palette reflects Chris’ preference for exposed natural materials to express the architectural structure. “Raw materials patina and age well and lend a timeless permanence to a structure,” Chris says. “In doing so they are far less susceptible to fickle trends.”
This is also evident in the furnishings in Two Angle House, with natural materials and timeless forms that complement the architecture. Sean Dix’s Casatua Daybed Sofa has strong, minimalist lines are softened by the exposed frame and curved timber arms, while the timber structure of Dix’s Forte glass coffee table has an angular geometry very much like Two Angle House.
While architecture influences the quality of space within the walls of a house, it also contributes to the integrity of the built environment. “It never ceases to amaze me the impact that our immediate surroundings can have on our emotions, identities and interactions,” Chris says. “It’s crucial that we get the design of the built world right and this goes beyond a building simply being just fit for brief and purpose. Good design helps support and reinforce a healthy, comfortable and delightful lifestyle.”