Seaside Plywood Shack
An exercise in restraint, ITN Architects' Great Ocean Road House demonstrates how applying a light touch to a magnificent setting can produce the finest results.
“Ordinary architecture for an extraordinary situation, There is no architectural agenda beyond serving the brief.” – comments Architect Aidan Halloran, Director of ITN Architects. Perhaps overly modest, his observation underscores the importance of knowing just how much (or how little) elaboration a project needs.
In this case, an exceptional site with extreme weather exposure, dramatic views and very close proximity to the busy ocean road presented varied pressures for the Architects to satisfy. Thus a simple T-shaped plan gives all bedrooms and living spaces access to the maritime prospect, creates private and protected outdoor spaces and provides protection from the worst of the summer sun.
Furthermore, the typology also allows for a very small actual footprint on the sensitive coastal site, and the simple greying timber form, although visible from one direction, slowly disappears into the surrounding tea-trees.
The interior is all hoop pine ply, featuring a spine shelving wall that runs the length of the house. While most furniture is new, its Danish style complements the classic beach house feel. Simple, basic materials and finishes are used throughout, tough enough for sandy feet and surfboards – it is a house purposely designed to be humble in its exposed coastal environment.
With a writer and a keen surfer for owners, the exposure of the site puts the occupants in the centre of the dramatic weather changes of the coast- a stimulating refuge, while still being a casual basic beach house.
Halloran concludes, “the simple basic forms are a nod more to the former, when beach houses were unpretentious occasional homes, rather than aping ‘the lifestyles of the rich and famous’. The house is truly a built expression of the client’s brief. There are no extraneous indulgences.”
Photography: Aidan Halloran