Designed by Sean Godsell Architects, the St Andrew’s Beach house on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula is unusual in that it is one of the few locations in Australia where construction is permitted right on the foreshore. Normally the coastline is protected as government owned land however in St Andrew’s there are buildings sited on the beach which face the Southern Ocean. The house has a protective outer skin made from oxidised steel industrial floor grating which hinge open to form brise soleil shutters. The building is raised on columns with parking and storage underneath. The programme called for a simple three bedroom family house. The plan has two discrete elements – a communal kitchen/meals/living space and a bedroom block. Each element is connected via a promenade deck. To move from element to element and from room to room one has to go outside and then inside thereby being exposed to the heat of summer and the extremes of winter.
This strategy was requested by the client as a way of using the weekend house to re-humanise oneself after a week of office work. It serves to de-sanitise the controlled 22degree C built environment to which we have all grown accustomed and to remind the occupants of their own frailty. This building forms part of our on-going research into the evolution of an Australian architecture in the Asian region. Fragments of the outback homestead – the sunroom, the breezeway, the sleep-out are re-organised into an abstract verandah which shelters and protects the occupants while enhancing the fluidity of the spaces and their loosely defined nature. ‘Inside’ and ‘outside’ are deliberately ambiguous. The external environment is filtered through a series of layers so that harsh extremes are tempered and the occupants are held and nurtured by the building.