Text description provided by the architects. Bar Beach is an inner-city suburb of Newcastle, Australia, An older house existed on the site however it was partially destroyed by an East Coast Low in 2015. The elevated site overlooks the ocean, is very exposed and the original building had not been built to withstand gale-force winds and horizontal rain. The site has expansive views of the ocean across a busy road to the East, and broad views of the city to the West. There are large houses on adjacent sites and the Northern neighbour blocks much of the site’s Northern sunlight.
The client’s brief was for a long term family house for five, that would survive intensive storms. The house is close to the beach, yet it isn’t a holiday house. The site is on a busy road however there is a spectacular outlook beyond. There are often strong sea breezes that make outdoor space difficult to use. The elevated view of the West allows for some beautiful sunsets to be observed. A modern pool existed on the site and was to be retained.
The design response was to use concrete. This material would allow for stability and a sense of permanence, particularly as the building would be tall to access the best views. Concrete would also assist with sound attenuation from the road. The building is arranged in 3 levels, with the lowest level housing cars and a living area associated with the pool and rear garden. The middle level is all bedrooms and the top level is all living, cooking, dining. The top floor is an open room, with a large aperture to the East and to the West. A large hole is made in the concrete roof and a timber-lined roof projects up to catch the winter sun from the North and provide passive venting.
There are full-width roofed decks to the East and West, allowing seamless indoor/outdoor living. The ocean-facing deck has folding storm windows that provide the first line of defence to the weather.
Sustainable features – Designing for permanence. Correctly orientated thermal mass; heavy insulation to walls and ceilings; rainwater harvesting for WC, laundry, and garden usage: minimal footprint to building, using fewer materials and resources; sustainable timber use such as reconstituted timber concealed structure;