Text description provided by the architects. The site for this new building is within a residential grid in the coastal Victorian (Australia) town of Barwon Heads. Due to the flat residential site the house was formed by a number of guiding factors. The clients required a house that would cater for both large groups whilst having zones that could be sectioned off when their needs changed. Further to this, we wanted the beach house environment reflects both the notion of coming together, and being linked to the external environment. By dividing the planning of the property into separate zones linked by one large main central hub, where people can come together to relax, socialize and prepare food, a direct link is created to this ideal. By extending large entertaining areas out from this main hub into the adjacent environment, a sense of space and flexibility is further added. Natural light, natural materials and a sense of transparency further promote a relaxed beachside environment. Large and open outdoor areas that are linked back to the interiors of the house were also required to emphasize the relaxed seaside environment.
The clients wanted to maximize the connection with the external spaces created around the house whilst maintaining a certain amount of privacy from the adjacent neighboring properties. These principles acted in directly guiding the form of the building. A large central hub was created as the heart of the home. This central zone acts to anchor the two wings of the house and also works to divide up the square shaped block to create individual external environments. To the front of the property a smaller more intimate and private space has been created, whilst on the other side of the central hub a large more open area is created, and flanked by the two wings of the house. As the site is nestled within a coastal environment, but does not benefit from water views, water has been introduced as part of the external environments. Vistas are created through the house looking out into these external environments over reflection ponds or a larger landscaped pool.
To reduce the visual bulk of the building form, it has been designed to sit low within its environment. A system of layers on both the horizontal and vertical surfaces has been employed to create impressive internal areas without resulting in a harsh external block form. Walls and spaces are set in at different depths to further recess the skin of the building. Deep terraces act to not only provide weather protection, but also act to create a level of privacy to the internal areas without having physical barriers or screens.
By zoning the house and landscape the functional aspects of the client’s requirements for the house are well met. However alternative complications arise by creating large open communal spaces, as they often tend to be quite barn like in appearance. In and attempt to mitigate this we have used an offset full height element within the space, which incorporates an open fireplace on one side and the kitchen bench on the other. This assists in delineating and defining the activity areas in what is essentially still an open, communal environment.