Sydney architects David Welsh and Christine Major were recently asked to design a house where the winds howl, waves crash, seas roar and waters immobilise – and you ”look out and feel Antarctica’s the next stop”.
The location was the traditional fishing village of Venus Bay in Southern Gippsland, two hours south-east of Melbourne; the end result, a contemporary home offering delightful refuge and prospect, while staying true to the traditional informality and relaxed nature of Australian coastal life.
The owners were repeat clients of Welsh and Major with an ”elegantly loose” brief. ”The house should comfortably house themselves and friends,” Welsh said. ”It needed to be robust and pragmatic, an unpretentious, comfortable place to get away. A contemporary interpretation of a typical beach house that gave them a base to explore the beach and the inlet, that did its best to be sustainable.”
Climatic considerations were important. Temperatures ranged from near zero to 40-plus degrees, with huge oscillations normal and it suffered strong winds. It was ”really wild” – and stunningly beautiful and unspoilt as a result. In addition, social considerations were equally critical to the design. ”Venus Bay is a traditional, old-fashioned fishing and holiday village. We felt enormous responsibility to stay true to the local typology,” Major said. ”The next few years will be a crucial time for the village, which has remained relatively affordable and is increasingly easily accessible, as locals decide whether they want change or to stay the same.” The rectangular site faces north, offering views of the inlet, sand hills and trees.
Externally, this single-storey house is unmistakably loyal to our long history of simple, unadorned, functional and much-loved Australian beach houses. It presents as two materials only – metal sheet and battened fibre-cement sheeting perched on unadorned concrete block retaining walls. Welsh and Major have positioned it on the site’s western boundary, ensuring regeneration of native tea trees on the eastern boundary. Designed to present ”as an object among the tea trees”, it also serves to suggest a positive alternative to future development of a ”series of blocks with tea trees on them”.
They then stretched the plan north and south to maximise light and take advantage of views front and back.
The western elevation presents as a beautiful woolshed, while functionally providing an uninterrupted defensive shield against prevailing winds.
By contrast, the eastern elevation presents as a fluid series of carved, protected courtyards. Internally, all public spaces are placed in the north-facing front and all private spaces in the southern section.
Article sourced: Domain.com.au, words by Trisha Croaker: http://news.domain.com.au/domain/architects/duo-design-a-house-to-cope-with-the-elements-20140503-37ot9.html