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BDAV 2015 Building Design Awards

Coastal Exposure

Winner Building Design Of The Year 2015

Winner Residential Design: New Houses $500K-$1M

Winner Excellence in Use of Glass

Designer: Designers By Nature Builder: Dance Constructions
Photographer: Rowena Naylor Photography Location: Port Fairy, VIC

With an aesthetic of, as the designer says, a ‘washed up crate’, this house rests quietly at the top of a sand dune and, indeed, the building embodies the feeling of walking up a sand dune to catch the first glimpse of the ocean as one reaches the top. Located in an enviable position with unimpeded ocean views, the house climbs up a bluestone rubble ‘groin’ from the road, with under-croft garaging supporting a cantilevered bedroom wing alongside an open-tread timber entry stair. The entry is defined by light coloured rendered walls - the only solid tone walls of the house - and an impressive cantilevered roof that floats above the main roof of the house, connecting the box-like forms as they reach the top of the dune.

Walls are of carefully detailed timber cladding with exposed framing, intended to weather naturally, and bluestone-like masonry. A concealed flat roof allows the box-like forms to predominate, and large section weathered timber columns support the entry roof. Windows are understated aluminium.The plan addresses the exposed siting, with outdoor areas located to take into account the changing weather patterns. A north-facing terrace adjoins the main bedroom and entry areas; a large courtyard sheltered by the living area has views of the ocean through that space, and an amphitheatre hunkers down into the top of the dune within timber retaining walls at the south-east corner. Simple interiors and cleverly placed windows ensure that the ongoing drama of the ocean is the main feature. Windows frame views and are provided in functional modules that fit neatly into the crate-like timber cladding, emphasising the views from strategically placed picture windows and maintaining a comforting sense of shelter from ocean winds.

The house is particularly successful as an addition to a delicate landscape, presenting to the beach as a simple weathered timber box with the sunken amphitheatre being the only outdoor area facing the ocean. Lawn covers the top of the dune, and taller native grasses provide soft focus at the edges. Timber planters support low grey-green coastal species at the base of the walls. The designer is to be commended for creating a finely crafted, sophisticated but understated house which provides a high degree of comfort and delight for the occupants while treating its setting with great respect.