[highlight1] St Andrews Beach House [/highlight1]
St Andrew’s Beach on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula is unusual in that it is one of the few locations in Australia where construction is permitted right on the foreshore. Normally the coastline is protected as government owned land however in St Andrew’s there are buildings sited on the beach which face the Southern Ocean. Our site is elevated and exposed to magnificent ocean views and in winter, gale force winds.
- St Andrews Beach House is a three-bedroom, two-storey structure that is elevated to engage with the views over the ocean. The form and colour are designed to harmonise with the surrounding landscape. The structure is designed to withstand punishing summer sun as well as the gale-force winter winds whipping across the beach front elevation.
- The plan consists of two distinct elements: a communal kitchen/meals/living space and a bedroom block. This defines the separated public and private spaces in the house. Each element is bridged via a promenade deck, that takes the form of two half-length passageways on opposite sides and at opposite ends of the plan. The crossover for the route takes occupants through the heart of the principal living room which, is situated towards the west end. In order to move from element to element and from room to room one has to go outside and then inside thereby being exposed to the heat of summer and the extremes of winter.
- Other parts of the home – the sunroom, breezeway and sleep-out – are re-organised into a veranda. The open plan also creates an ambiguous relationship of the interior and exterior of the house.
The house has a protective outer skin made from oxidised steel industrial floor grating which hinge open to form brise soleil shutters. The building is raised on columns with parking and storage underneath. The programme called for a simple three bedroom family house. The plan has two discrete elements – a communal kitchen/meals/living space and a bedroom block. Each element is connected via a promenade deck. To move from element to element and from room to room one has to go outside and then inside thereby being exposed to the heat of summer and the extremes of winter. This strategy was requested by the client as a way of using the weekend house to re-humanise oneself after a week of office work. It serves to de-sanitise the controlled 22degree C built environment to which we have all grown accustomed and to remind the occupants of their own frailty.
This building forms part of our on-going research into the evolution of an Australian architecture in the Asian region. Fragments of the outback homestead – the sunroom, the breezeway, the sleep-out are reorganised into an abstract verandah which shelters and protects the occupants while enhancing the fluidity of the spaces and their loosely defined nature. ‘Inside’ and ‘outside’ are deliberately ambiguous. The external environment is filtered through a series of layers so that harsh extremes are tempered and the occupants are held and nurtured by the building.
JURY CITATION – Robin Boyd Award
Singular in its intent and beautifully spare in its materiality, this exemplary house is as resonant as a finely tuned musical instrument. Questioning the convention of its type, this work investigates the essential relationship between architecture and nature. Perched delicately above the tree line of its coastal site, the singular form evokes strong emotions. The precisely limited palette – pre-rusted steel and rustic timber – is a powerful response to the setting.
Internally the house provides a haven from the ravages of coastal storms, and sets the occupants apart from, but in an intimate relationship with, the landscape. The whole of the house is encased in a fine metal screen, which affords a delicate filtering of light to the interior spaces. At each end of the dramatically cantilevered form views are framed from open decks. On the north wall, the screens can pivot away to reveal the view and increase the penetration of daylight.
The plan is simple, with the house clearly divided into discrete living and sleeping components. A connecting gallery encompassed by the external screen allows contact with the elements. Integration of structure into the fabric of the building has been achieved effortlessly through careful and inventive detailing, and a sense of drama results from the cantilevered Vierendeel trusses.
This work is a highly controlled yet poetic exploration of the beach house type. It provides an intelligent and skilled response to the climate, and further adds to the interpretation of the notion of shelter in the Australian landscape. It is a unique house without compromise and provides its occupants with an essential and delightful experience of retreat. It transcends the ordinary to create an inhabited artwork.
Sean Godsell Architects
St Andrew’s Beach on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula is unusual in that it is one of the few locations in Australia where construction is permitted right on the foreshore. Normally the coastline is protected as government owned land however in St Andrew’s there are buildings sited on the beach which face the Southern Ocean.
Our site is elevated and exposed to magnificent ocean views and in winter, gale force winds. The house has a protective outer skin made from perforated oxidized steel panels which hinge open to form brise soleil shutters. The building is elevated on columns with parking and storage underneath.
The programme called for a simple three bedroom family House with a separate Guest House. The plan has three discrete elements – a communal kitchen/meals/living space, children’s rooms and parents room. Each space is accessed from outside via a promenade deck. To move from room to room one has to go outside and then inside thereby being exposed to the heat of summer and the extremes of winter. This strategy was requested by the client as a way of using the weekend house to re-humanise oneself after a week of office work. It serves to de-sanitise the controlled 22degree C built environment to which we have all grown accustomed and to remind the occupants of their own fraility.
Organisation of spaces inside and out:
- Our client’s initial request was for a series of discrete pavilions each only accessible from outside and each with views.
- We reinterpreted this request during the design process as simply the desire for ‘discrete spaces’ and the yearning for un-conditioned space (fresh air) as a means of reclaiming one’s humanity after a week of office work.
- The resultant plan also accommodated our underlying interest in the fluid nature of ‘verandah space’ and the iconic potential of such an investigation – two discrete spaces – a living block and a sleeping block are separated and linked externally (under cover). The nature of the two blocks is vastly different – the living room is bright with a translucent ceiling and has a framed view of the sea. In contrast the bedrooms are darker, cosier spaces. A slice through the building accentuates the splitting of the two functional elements.
- Low E coated glass is used in the Living Room block
- A triple ‘glazed’ fibreglass roof is used over the living room block
- R4.0 rated insulation is used in the bedroom block
- The entire floor is insulated with 50mm polystyrene sheeting
- The building is layered with operable sunscreens and is oriented approximately 20deg east of north so that when operated the sunscreens become brise soleil
- The screen runs over the roof further assisting in the reduction of radiant heat gain
Architectural expression of the concept:
- The elevated building requires a simple, strong form to enable it to engage directly with the scale of the ocean, whilst maintaining a sensible street scale
- The form of the building refers to an earlier era of holiday shacks – fibro cement dwellings on steel posts with space for the car and boat underneath
- The built form is a consistent evolution of our investigation into certain materials, structure and cultural and historic influences
Structure, construction, materials, services:
- The house is a pair of 43m long steel Vierendeel trusses supported on four legs each 400×400 through which all the building’s services run.
- Posi-struts span between the truss to support the floor, steel rafters to support the roof
- Services run through the floor system and are deliberately visible through the grated steel underbelly
- The roof is a triple layer fibreglass sheet with sunscreen over and, at the living room block, a translucent ceiling
- Evenly oxidised and weathered steel was chosen for its subdued natural aesthetic and (when correctly detailed and finished) high durability in marine environments
[highlight1] Project Data [/highlight1]
Project name: St Andrews Beach House
Location: 44 Constantine Ave, St Andrews Beach VIC 3941, Australia
- Type By Characteristic: Holiday House, Green & Sustainable House
- Type By Site: Beach House
- Type By Size: Small House – (51 sqm – 200 sqm)
- Type By Structural: Steel House
Project Area: approx 85 sqm
Project Year: 2003 – 2006
Completion Year: 2007
- 2006 – The American Institute of Architect (AIA Awards) – Robin Boyd Award – Category: Residential architecture – houses – Winner
[highlight1] The people [/highlight1]
Client / Owner / Developer: Private
Architects: Sean Godsell Architects – Level 2, 49 Exhibition Street, Melbourne Victoria 3000, Australia
Project Team: Sean Godsell, Hayley Franklin
Builder: RD McGowan Building
Building surveyor: Wilsmore Nelson
Interior design: Sean Godsell Architects
Landscape consultant: Sean Godsell Architects, Sam Cox Landscaping
Structural consultant: Felicetti
Text Description: © Courtesy of Sean Godsell Architects, architectureau
Images: © Sean Godsell, flickr-Bob, flickr-Ximo Michavila