A beach house often stands as a cherished retreat, a haven for times with family and friends. Yet the concept of building a second home can easily seem at odds with being mindful of sustainability and our environment. Read more

For our clients, a semi-retired couple who stand by their sustainable principles, a large suburban house in a coastal setting would be at odds with their philosophy and initially caused them concern.

However, the result, a modest three-bedroom house of just over 150 square metres, constructed in recycled and sustainable materials, justifies the second home. It also demonstrates what can be achieved in thinking outside the square. The shape of the house, triangular in form, also defines the traditional approach – allowing for the home’s three elevations to create a looseness on the large coastal site. This arrangement enables each façade to respond to the site and its orientation, engaging with the biodiverse garden designed by landscape architect Jo Henry.

From the outset, ‘Beach Slice’, named after the timber wall that appears to slice through the plan, was destined to reach a 7.9 NatHERS rating. As well as using recycled timber, including the timber from the floors of the original 1920s cottage, there are recycled bricks, expressed on the inside and out, with the concrete floors combined with fly ash – reducing the energy in producing concrete. Large picture windows, with built-in seats in the open plan kitchen and living areas, allow for both structure (LVL beams) and function to merge, as with the nifty manner in which curtains can be retracted and stored in a built-in cupboard when not required.

The owners, who regularly have family and friends staying over, wanted a simple yet energy efficient home. The starting point was a simple extension to a 1970s home architect Steffen Welsch had shown them, one that connected to their lives and the type of houses they grew up in. However, rather than chilly corridors and cupboard-sized bedrooms, this house includes three generous bedrooms, two bathrooms and a separate yoga room that connects to a triangular-shaped deck – ideal for dragging mats onto during warmer days, or simply getting out a few deck chairs. As important in the design was to create a home that could be naturally ventilated with large operable windows with flyscreens, ceiling fans and large sliding timber and glass doors to blur the division between inside and out. And in the colder months, the pot-belly fire place warms the living areas. Here, it’s about using materials in an honest manner and enjoying being connected to this unique landscape.

Text by Stephen Crafti