Slice of paradise

Despite near neighbours, this contemporary beach house achieves a tranquil, light-filled ambience
View of living space and staircase featuring vertical architecture, daylighting, glass, handrail, interior design, stairs, window, gray
View of living space and staircase featuring vertical glass panes separating the living spaces, polished concrete floors and aluminum joinery.

Homes perched on the edge of the ocean offer an enviable lifestyle after all, a beach at your doorstep is hard to beat. However, the prized nature of waterfront land means they often stand cheek by jowl, crowding out each other's sun. Some inspired design may be needed to ensure natural light floods through their interiors.

This long, narrow home, by architect David Gray, is a case in point. Built into a space just over 9m wide, the structure is 23m long and 7.3m across with other homes in close proximity on both sides.

"The residence is designed as an open-plan beach house with a loft-like aesthetic," says Gray. "The closeness of the neighbouring homes presented privacy issues and also limited access to natural light towards the centre of the house."

The solution was to make the entire east-facing facade a translucent wall. This allows the interior to be naturally lit while maintaining visual and acoustic separation from the neighbours, who are only 1.5m beyond the glazing.

View of kitchen featuring walnut cabinetry, caesarstone bench architecture, ceiling, countertop, daylighting, glass, house, interior design, kitchen, real estate, wall, gray
View of kitchen featuring walnut cabinetry, caesarstone bench tops and Capri design Plan lighting.

The west facade is clad in a porcelain rain screen to improve insulation and the durability of the enclosed envelope. This face also has panels of translucent glass, limited to avoid excessive heat on this, the sunniest side of the home.

"The butterfly roof allows clerestory windows to be tucked under it on both sides," says Gray. "These let more sunlight into the interiors, as does the tilted window wall on the street side of the house."

The pier supports, house structure and floor slabs are all concrete. This was chosen over wood and steel to minimise the effects of the salty sea air. Any exposed reinforcing steel was treated with the same anti-corrosive coating that is used on oil rigs.

Encroachment by the sea is always a consideration on coastal sites and this house is prepared the area is protected by a 7.6m-deep retaining wall to keep out the ocean scour. Above, the living area, dining area and kitchen are all one open space to maximise views from all vantage points.

View of the master bedroom featuring concrete floors, architecture, furniture, house, interior design, window, gray, black, white
View of the master bedroom featuring concrete floors, aluminum joinery and large wooden headboard.

"Both the structure and the feature glass wall inform the interior aesthetics," says Gray. "Hanging glass shelves fitted on the glass wall draw attention to this element and provide a light backdrop to the objects displayed on them.

"A glass partition separates the circulation stairs from the living areas and echoes the glazed wall on the exterior. All through the house, concrete is left exposed."

On the upper level, the master bedroom is positioned on the southern side, with two children's bedrooms at the other end of the house offering views back to the mountains.

Cool, modern and sunlit, the pared-back design is well suited to a beachfront lifestyle.

Aug 10, 2010
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