This triangular beach house nestled among the gums and grasses is the perfect slice of beach house living only an hour from Melbourne...
"A home away from home serves two main purposes: enjoying a place somewhere else, and escaping daily routines: nature instead of town, stars instead of lights, quiet instead of noise, casual instead of organised, social instead of insular (or vice versa), leisure instead of work." - Steffen Welsch Architects
Beach Slice is a holiday home an hour drive from Melbourne and just a five-minute walk to the shore of Western Port Bay. Designed for clients who have been active environmentalists for decades, the environmental sustainability of the project was a high priority. Steffen Welsch Architects has created a home that "minimises embodied energy used in its construction as well as the operational energy used during its lifetime. It was also designed to maintain biodiversity on site."
"The design of this house applies principles of passive solar design, solar control, zoning and compartmentalisation, high thermal mass, insulation and cross ventilation to maximise sustainability while maintaining comfort. It is highly insulated, featuring high-performance, double-glazed doors and windows and is high in thermal mass by using a concrete slab for the floor and recycled bricks for internal walls."
As the architect explains, "given that holiday homes sit on prime real estate, there is a temptation to move away from the traditional fibro shack towards an oversized 'substantial' building showcasing sophisticated details and a sense of luxury that may as well be an extension of the place one is trying to escape from." While there's no denying Beach Slice is beautifully designed and detailed, it retains the scale and proportions of a more modest home, helping it nestle into its natural surroundings without dominating and naturally beautiful materials are used which will age well and don't require a lot of maintenance.
"Beach Slice resists that temptation. Our building almost hides in its bush setting and appears effortless and simple - although it is far from that. It is a manifestation of 'quiet architecture': a building that may go unnoticed at first sight but reveals itself gradually and becomes appreciated over time." - Steffen Welsch Architects
The home was designed for three parties to holiday together effortlessly. The triangular floorplan is separated into two wings, one for living and one for resting, giving each group an opportunity for privacy, or the ability to come together for meals and socialising. Covered by a corrugated iron roof over each wing at opposing angles, the unique form of the building also feels familiar, with verandahs and simple curtain walls evoking the sense of those classic fibro shacks. Inside, the raking ceilings create a varied sense of space, helping each living zone to feel unique, even though they share the same open space. It also provides the opportunity for high-level windows to let in light and take in views of the treetops.
The external walls are constructed from Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL), an engineered timber product that provides great structural strength with far less embodied energy than steel. The depth of the LVLs creates space for internal storage and even windows seats to sit and enjoy the natural setting. It's a fantastic example of form and function.
Beach Slice is the perfect slice of comfort and relaxation in a naturally beautiful setting. As the architect explains, "sitting on a bush block, it is humble and relaxed, designed to holiday. A place to hang your hat, it is also suitable as a place to retire."