Point King Residence, Portsea, Australia

This family beach house was designed to facilitate family and friends coming together, yet also allow the occupiers space to rest and relax in privacy. The idea of integrating communal and private spaces was a key driver for the zoning approach to the house. Our client’s brief was to design a house that celebrated its coastal location. It also facilitated a communal experience at the same time allowing privacy when needed. The programmatic functions of the various spaces were distilled into three key modules: shared, private and living. These three modules were then circled around a central entrance space that mimics courtyards more normally associated within a European village. Separated modules connected around the shared central space provide the core conceptual approach of ‘a village house’.

As ‘a village house’, scale became an important factor in limiting the volume into an outline that nestled comfortably within the landscape. With the entire house sitting almost two metres below ground level (to the rear, south side), the overall height, as experienced from the street is one that at its highest, sits among the lower line of the Moonah and Tea trees. As a house situated on the edge of Point King cliff, this residence sits quietly, not only when viewed from the beach below, but also from Port Philip Bay and Point King Road.

The interiors also reflect the simplicity of the house’s situation on the site. The interiors program and its execution is such that spaces are distinctly zoned yet have a natural connection. Generously scaled rooms foster light and natural ventilation and flow with ease. The interior components celebrate the architectural strategy, with decorative elements providing a level of intimacy appropriate to its domestic setting. Limestone excavated from the site and recycled timber battens establish a palette sympathetic to the climate and the client’s desire that this house is grounded both physically and figuratively.

As a coastal property, the heritage of the location is fully connected to the site. With a 99 year lease, the limestone kiln nestled into the cliff forms an anchor point to the site. As a mechanism to celebrate this ‘heritage’ and provide a sustainable solution to a pragmatic problem, limestone excavated from the site was used as the base material throughout the ground floor. The reuse of the limestone mined from the excavation, not only provided a natural material that reflected the history of the site but also provided a solution to the removal of excavation material and limited subsequent freight cost of waste materials. In keeping with the idea of connecting the materials to the site, the upper level timber battens are all recycled timber. The recycled timber obviously has environmental benefits, yet also provided the grey tinge that mimics the Moonah trees located throughout the site.

More broadly, the design of this house signifies a more mature approach to housing along the peninsula. Most commonly, housing in the local area seeks to fight the harsh climatic conditions, whereas this house seeks to work within the existing environmental framework. The design is not merely a suburban replicate of what a beach house should be, but rather an acknowledgement of site and context more broadly.

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