This house on the south coast of New South Wales was designed as one of a pair of modern beach houses, occupying a greenfield site overlooking beautiful Gerringong Beach. The form of the building is simple – a timber driftwood box with a crisp white roof floating overhead. The lower level serves as a platform from which to appreciate the outstanding views. From its elevated position, the house enjoys 270˚ views of the ocean, adjacent headland, and green hinterland beyond, part of the Great Dividing Range. The setting is breathtaking. The strong natural light allows sun and shade to animate the architecture, making the house a part of the ever-changing scenery of its ocean setting.
Timber cladding, a classic beach house material, wraps around the lower part of the house, creating a warm and tactile plinth. The same timber extends inwards and becomes part of the interior, through wall cladding in key areas, the timber walled stair and limed oak joinery, further blurring the relationship of the inside and out. With time, the strong coastal light will cause the timber to fade like a piece of driftwood, and the house will settle into the harsh landscape. The garden has been planted in a scrubby coastal style, using species from the immediate surroundings, and will mature and evolve over time.
A key Smart Design Studio planning principle was adopted, to minimise reliance on doors inside, and let space flow around cores of joinery and blade walls. We split the conventional planning configuration by locating the living room, kitchenette, and master bedroom upstairs, where the views are best. Downstairs, the main kitchen, dining room, family room, and bedrooms open up to the north, and westward, to the mountains.
The interior palette is simple and understated. The timber cladding is complemented with large-format grey vitrified tiles and white walls, which create a neutral base for both art and the expansive views. The stairs are of blackened timber so as to be visually recessive. Bathrooms walls and fittings are a crisp white.
We chose to make the most of the views, as well as the sunny and protected northern aspect, by positioning the living and sleeping spaces to that side. Service rooms including the bathrooms, laundry, and garage, are located to the south. All of the rooms open onto generous outdoor spaces, on different sides of the house, ensuring protection from the changeable seaside winds. By taking cues from its setting, the house is a perfectly-arranged weekender designed with casual entertaining at the forefront.
The walls of the timber plinth wrap up and form a solid balustrade to the first floor terrace. This simple move creates privacy for occupants of the upper living room, and screens the street from view.
By night, the house has a lantern-like quality. Simple of form, with a confident relationship of solid and void, timber and glass, this compact house sets a new benchmark for coastal living.
SMART DESIGN STUDIO ARCHITECTURE FROM THE INSIDE OUT