Wirra Willa has been owned for 22 years and managed as a citrus/stone fruit orchard over that period. It contains approximately 5000 citrus trees and 1000 stone fruit trees. The property comprises 75 acres of prime agricultural land under irrigation provided by spring bore and creek water supplies. The property also has three residences, two of which are tenanted.
There has been a lot of development in the gardens, landscape and structure of the orchard, which is attracting increased commercial attention. One of the recent structures designed by architect Matthew Woodward. The inspiration for it is drawn from Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s ‘Farnsworth House’ and this is a fact architect Matthew Woodward is happy to concede.
“The simplicity of the Farnsworth House was very attractive”, he admits, “and we were wanting to maintain a similar sort of aesthetic with a Modernist glass pavilion from where you can experience the landscape, yet still feel private within it.” The Farnsworth House is a flat-roofed masterpiece of 20th Century architecture in steel and glass that appears to hover above the grass on the banks of the Fox River near the town of Plano, Illinois, Raised on 1.5- metre-high stilts to protect it from flooding, the Farnsworth House was indeed flooded when the river burst its a banks from the effects of a hurricane in 2008.
The Wirra Wirra pavilion, too, is raised up to protect it from the possibilities of a hundred-year flood. It is more than likely that a torrent will one day rush through from a water course to be found in the thick bush at one end of the dam, next to the pavilion. The floodwaters will just about lap at the floor of the cantilevered structure. From inside the pavilion, what draws the eye is the water just below, and the adjacent bush and the Gymea Lilies, here and there. The overwhelming sensation, meanwhile, is one of floating above the sparkling lake.
The building is orientated to the north-east. so “we have beautiful sun all year round…We also have enough opening glass panels that we get ventilation right through the lenght of the building.” In winter the sun is enough to keep it warm on clear days and a fireplace provides a boost on chilly evenings. In winter, for added cosynnes or for summer shade, a white drape appears out of joinery at the black of the room and can be pulled around the entire perimeter via a recessed track in the ceiling. Once closed- or even half- closed and billowing in the afternoon breeze- you can see the influence of the Shigeru Ban Curtain Wall house mixed with the Miesian.
For the structure itself, this is simply one big steel-framed glass room/bath house bisected by a sandstone brick core. Inside the core is a bar / kitchenette and bathroom facilities. Beyond the core and facing towards the fruit trees and away from the lake is a vestibule/bedroom. Here a double bed descends from plywood joinery.
Info and images © Matthew Woodward