When you've got a spot this good, you need to build something special to do the location justice. Casey Brown Architecture have done it, creating Hart House a modern Australian beach house which deals with a challenging steep site and celebrates the idyllic shoreline of Great Mackerel Beach north of Sydney...
Wrapped in a corrugated aluminium shell and tucked into the steep site, Hart House is protected from the corrosive sea-spray, cold southerly winds and the bushfire-prone landscape. One whole wall remains open to the views and sunlight, however, creating a knockout focal point for the home. This glazed wall facing north-east takes in views of Pittwater towards the spectacular Barrenjoey Headland. Thanks to its orientation, the living areas also enjoy plenty of natural light.
The steep slope means the foreshore is hidden from the living space, giving the illusion you are floating on the bay.
The beach house is designed as a modern take on the classic Australian one-room beach shack. The main living spaces are located on the upper level, where they enjoy a double-height space. A utility pod within this open space contains the bathroom and pantry with a mezzanine level craftily positioned above the pod. The lofty space and the expansive bay views help the home to feel much larger than it actually is.
On the lower level, the bedroom and ensuite open onto a sandstone terrace overlooking the water. This level is treated as a plinth and clad in sandstone from the site. The sandstone anchors the home to its site and a series of terraced retaining walls cascade down for access to the bach.
"While modest in size, the interior is rich in materiality" explains the architect, following "the philosophy of 'less, but better quality'" Birch plywood lines the walls and cabinets, with timber flooring and concrete benches giving the home a laid-back, yet durable aesthetic. Spotted gum is used throughout for flooring, decking and for door and window frames. This native timber was chosen for its "sustainability credentials and inherent bushfire resistance", explains the architect. The palette of textural, naturally beautiful materials suits the owners, one of whom is a ceramicist.
Small windows are punched into the home's protective shell to encourage breezes to naturally cool the house. Similarly, clerestory windows to the rear of the dining area capture views of the cliff and bush landscape.
"Being accessible only by water, it was important for the house to be largely self-sufficient – the roof houses a significant array of solar panels for energy, rainwater is harvested for the occupant’s needs, and waste is processed on-site." - Casey Brown Architecture
"The palette of colours used for the house resonates with the beach and surrounding Australian bush and beach landscape. A place for relaxing and enjoying the beach, this distinctive house captures the view, sun, and breezes to create an unforgettable shack highly suited to the unique opportunities and constraints of the site." This modern Australian beach house is the perfect complement to its site and the perfect retreat.