A fortress doesn't sound like a very desirable place to live, but this coastal house was designed as a literal interpretation of the client’s initial brief. They requested a very private retreat; Anti-social, even unfriendly to the street, as a counterpoint to their sociable city lives. And while there's no moat around Fortress House by ITN Architects, this quiet weekend beach retreat certainly ensures some much-needed privacy and solitude…
Private Exterior to a More Open Interior
The only two windows to the street frontage are deep set and high, allowing no interior views. The main first floor entry is reached via a six metre bridge. It's not a draw bridge, but you get the hint. It is only once beyond this uninviting threshold, that the house gradually begins to open up to the surrounding tea-tree covered dunes, with carefully selected views. This comes to a dramatic conclusion with the six and a half metre tall window at the far end of the central spine of the house.
The form and materials of the building draw on typical Australian weekenders from the 1950s to 1970s. Only this interpretation has added luxury in the generosity of the interior spaces. The no fuss raw timber exterior combined with rusted steel balustrades will streak and fade with time, slowly taking on the grey and olive palette of the surrounding vegetation.
Simple Materials Palette
The simple palette of all timber exterior, the timber and white concrete and plaster interior was selected to avoid any high gloss contemporary finishes. It is a simple robust interior designed to accommodate the old op-shop furniture and relaxed messiness that is an enjoyable part of the beach house experience.
There was a conscious aim for an 'ordinary' architecture, with forms, layout, details and materials as simple and obvious as possible.
"Although it was a frustrating 6 years from conception to completion, it is one of the most satisfying projects I have worked on, where the both the clients and builder worked very hard to get the best result possible, with a relatively small budget." — ITN Architects
Everyone's looking for something different in a beach home. Some want to socialise with the active local community while others crave a private beach retreat. It's obvious what the owners of Fortress House were after. ITN Architects have created a space that feels like a private retreat from the world, but thanks to selectively place windows and vistas, it also benefits from the calming influence of nature to restore and revitalise these worn-out holiday-makers.