The Esplanade / Finnis Architects

The Esplanade / Finnis Architects - Windows, Facade, Courtyard, PatioThe Esplanade / Finnis Architects - Sofa, TableThe Esplanade / Finnis Architects - Table, Lighting, Countertop, ChairThe Esplanade / Finnis Architects - Sofa, Table, BedroomThe Esplanade / Finnis Architects - More Images+ 4

Brighton, Australia

Text description provided by the architects. The residence was conceived by responding to several defining constrains that ultimately resulted in a product that surpassed both architectural form and interior finished expectations, one that also redefined the possibilities of achieving space, light and ambiance from within a narrow yet lengthy cigar shaped site. Perched on land reminiscent of a funnel with a kaleidoscopic view over the bay at one end, we were challenged to treat the interiors as non completing elements that were subtly slotted within the boundaries of the design. 

The Esplanade / Finnis Architects - Windows, Facade, Courtyard, Patio
© Dianna Snape

The dwelling was constructed over three levels with primary living spaces occupying areas that could either spill out externally or otherwise command unrivalled views. This assisted enormously in creating both an illusion and depth of space by utilizing natural stones, timbers and refined detailing to extenuate the spatial dimensions. Whilst our brief remained relatively unrestricted we were extremely conscious of the sites’ inherent constraints and its magnificent opportunities. To this end we believe the contemporary design responded exceedingly well in achieving an acute balance between satisfying client requirements and a realization that the subtleties’ achieved by the interior design were the most rewarding.

The site presented itself as a most challenging design given its superb beach front location and unprecedented vista across Port Phillip Bay although orientated due west and often confronting the extremes in weather conditions. The site was long and relatively narrow with vehicle access to the rear and bounded on both its longest boundaries by double storey residential developments which not only blocked natural northern and southern light but also prevented the potential of opening up the development for fear of exposure and overlooking. It was soon decided that given these obvious constraints our task was made relatively clear as to how the design would maximise its potential and overcome the somewhat awkward siting arrangement.

The Esplanade / Finnis Architects - Sofa, Table
© Dianna Snape

It was necessary to hone in on the spatial requirements and prioritize areas for entertainment, general living, solitude and home office, matching them with their need for either:  light, space, privacy and views. Once this was achieved the matrix of spaces and relationships fell into place with relative ease. 

The critical aspect was to be how the interiors would transform whilst unite the design in an uncluttered yet well organized way. Maximizing the view was obviously of prime importance and as such there was a host of activities and spaces vying for prime position. Kitchen, meals spaces, living, entertaining etc. the requirement to accommodate these in one zone whilst subtly providing related joinery and continuity of finishes proved challenging in itself. However one that we believe was successfully achieved by resisting the need to over compensate with a myriad varying elements, giving preference and dominance to what was most important, ‘the fantastic views’.

The Esplanade / Finnis Architects - Table, Lighting, Countertop, Chair
© Dianna Snape

The material and detailing intent for this project was based on the following principles:

-  Clean, crisp detailing and materials

-  Comfortable, warm materials reflecting a homely softness while maintaining clean lines.

-  Materials reflecting the integrity of the material – i.e. natural stone, natural timbers, steel and glass.

The Esplanade / Finnis Architects - Sofa, Table, Bedroom
© Dianna Snape

On the ground level there was a firm connection to the ground. There are two levels only one step apart. The lower floor level is finished in white limestone which seamlessly flows to the exterior.  Upper floor level is finished in spotted gum this level is also duplicated in the spotted gum timber decks at the front entry and rear court yard. The joinery is designed to comfortable with the floor and wall materials employing timber veneers to match the floors and emperite in Satin to match the walls.  The junctions are cleaned shadowed lines the intent was for the joinery to dissolve into the space.

While artificial heating and cooling are employed in the project, the consumption of energy was minimised by insulation used throughout external insulation foam used on the upper levels and good use of natural cross ventilation. In addition the glazing is laminated comfort glass to reduce both heat loss and heat gain. All areas of the house have been considered for natural light, reducing the requirement for artificial lighting.

The Esplanade / Finnis Architects - Toilet, Sink, Bathroom, Bathtub, Bed, Bedroom
© Dianna Snape

The landscape constrains a large proportional of permeable surfaces and storm water is harvested via a 10,000 litre water tank for use in the plunge pool and gardens. This is turn reduces run off into the urban storm water system and reduces water consumption. Internally, the use of low ‘voc’ paints was employed and all timbers were sourced from sustainable harvested forests.  

Whilst design was critical to the development, budgetary constraints also played an important role throughout the design process. Various materials were investigated as to their appropriateness from a aesthetic value and or cost relationship. Where possible, interior works were constructed utilizing a minimalistic whilst acutely detailed design approach. Areas of the development that could be economically constructed utilizing standard treatments were done so thus creating the opportunity in channeling funds to areas that would achieve maximum benefits.

Ground Floor Plan
Roof Terrace Plan

We were fortunate with the sites’ rectangular shape which enabled external walls to be simplified and built along boundaries thus eliminating the need for expensive, exposed treatments which were hidden from public view. We were able to concentrate on the internal faces of these walls with architectural treatment and finishes that expressed the contemporary nature of the design. Upon completion of the project, the design brief had been successfully achieved within budgetary allowances and design expectations.   

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Cite: "The Esplanade / Finnis Architects" 14 Jan 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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