Project Area: 219.0 sqm
Engineer: Izzat Consulting Engineers
Builder: Bruce Brown
Site Area: 400 sqm
Cost: $300,000 USD
This house is for leisure. Seal Rocks is all about surfing, the bush and the ocean. The attributes of a family home have been distilled down to the basics, moulded to suit the site and optimised for holidays. There is just one bathroom, a big shower, one living space but plenty of room on the hammock deck or on the day bed.
The design is focused on a central courtyard, to which all rooms open one wall to. This encourages outdoor living and occupants only retreat inside when the weather doesn’t cooperate. It also creates sense of privacy and enclosure to the outdoor living area. The surrounding internal roof edge allows protected circulation under the eaves, reduces the built form and blurs the indoor/outdoor transition. It also frames a sky view which is animated at night by the lighthouse beam passing overhead.
Seal Rocks is a small, unique village, many existing dwellings are basic weatherbeaten fishing shacks, now mostly used for holidays. Thomas road, was developed later and the last 10 blocks in the street only became available in 2003.
The intention was to build an uncomplicated holiday house, which could also be let out for rental income. The existing original cottages are slowly being lost as properties change hands, so the approach was to build in a way that retains the language of the existing built forms of Seal Rocks and to be respectful of context.
There is a gentle rise on the site to the rear and an outlook to the bush, front and rear. The Rural Fire Service placed a 10m setback to the rear, enforced a fire fence and dictated that all the buildings in the street had to be partly flame zone and level 3 bushfire protection.
The building focuses to the central space to minimise the amount of external glazing thus reducing the amount of expensive bushfire treatments. It improves the sense of privacy and enclosure to the outdoor living area. The surrounding internal roof edge allows protected circulation under the eaves, reduces the built form and blurs the indoor/outdoor transition. It also frames a sky view which is animated at night by the lighthouse beam passing overhead.
Named ‘Kurreki’, (‘Bush Myrtle’ in the Worimi language), the feel of the house is one of luxury camping. Being able to close the outer perimeter makes all rooms openable to the central deck. This allows you to sleep under mosquito nets, with a view of the night sky. A wide shaded entry foyer is for storage of surfboards, hanging towels and wetsuits while a shower nearby reduces sand spreading throughout the house. The most popular space is the shady hammock deck, which receives constant use.
Materials throughout relate to the context of the village, are economical and corrosion resistant. There are no ‘city’ materials like glass splashbacks, ceramic tiles or polished stone. The walls are lined with 9mm CFC cladding and aluminium channels, much like the existing buildings of fibro and cover batten. Locally milled blackbutt decking and custom orb roofing are other dominant materials both of which are used in existing buildings. Construction methods and detailing are intentionally basic, for reasons of economy and working in with the local tradesmen. Steel is avoided and items such as the plastic external light fittings, were chosen both for economy and long life. Floors are polished particleboard, all joinery uses formply as a finished face. The exterior is simple, grey and silver, while the interior is colourful, inspired by rockpools and neighbouring bush.
A 1.5kW grid feed solar system has been installed, which feeds excess power into the grid (annually, the result is that no power is imported). A wet composting worm farm treats sewage, the roof feeds to 27000 L of water storage for domestic use, with an additional 15000L for firefighting. For extra protection a pump supplies the fire fighting sprinklers at roof and garden level with the domestic supply. Some of this lands on the roof, then recirculates, extending the protection time.