Text description provided by the architects. Situated on a dramatic coastal site overlooking Redgate Beach just west of Witchcliffe, this house was designed to respond to the natural qualities of the site and the client’s desire for a modern, low-maintenance, passive-solar home, which captured ocean and valley views whilst also retaining a sense of living ‘within the trees’. To minimise clearing of existing vegetation and to maintain the visual buffer between the house and a neighbouring limestone quarry, the house site is located within a natural clearing, which was also fortunately well elevated above the lower lying land and allows generous views across the 10 acre site, as well as ocean views. The site itself is quite exposed and characterized by rocky limestone outcrops interspersed across the sloping site, with dense vegetation to the east, screening the house from nearby Redgate Road, and coastal trees and scrub.
From the south, there are often strong salt-laden winds and limestone dust from the adjoining working lime pit to contend with, hence the house design has a cranked linear form, with the profiled steel roof extending down the outer walls to create a protective ‘shoulder’ against the elements, whilst the interior spaces within are more lightweight and open, and encourage interaction between inside and outside.
The building materials were all selected for their durability, and combine to create a simple and industrial palette, which also responds to the colours and textures of the site itself. The profiled steel cladding is an important feature of the building form, achieving the distinctive low-pitched roof form, and with custom-made prickle-caps, creating the sharp lines of the folded roof form where the roof extends down the walls, to wide easy-clean gutters below. The floating, cantilevered concrete decks maximize the sense of elevation and lightness of the house, and creates a distinct edge between the house and landscape.
Functionally, the clients desired an open plan living area to maximize views and connect with the outdoors via a generous outdoor deck. The living area forms the main building spine, with a secondary bedroom wing projecting outward from the spine (accommodating the children’s bedrooms and guest suite), as does the main bedroom suite, which is positioned to obtain impressive southwest views and connected back to the main building form via a link structure, which houses the study. The clients were also interested in an environmentally-sustainable house, hence the design has a strong focus on achieving natural lighting with generous glazing to the north, the exposed concrete floor slabs act as a heat sink, whilst electronic-controlled highlight windows capture breezes and ceiling fans and a large open fireplace were favoured over air-conditioning. An energy-efficient heat pump supplies hot water to the house, and the large rainwater tank works in conjunction with a windmill-pumped bore to provide all the water to the residence.
The project achieved excellent cost efficiencies considering the building market and the limited availability of trades at this remote site, with very little variance to the client’s target budget over the 24-month construction period.