An Australian Beach Home with Stunning Ocean Views

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By Caroline Wallis / Published by Dwell
Eco-friendly features like solar panels and rainwater catchments keep this retreat's environmental footprint small.

Characterized by a balmy, temperate climate, the seaside Australian town Mount Martha couldn’t be a better site for this oceanfront home that opens itself to the sea breeze. OLA Studio, the firm behind the project, touts a strong commitment to passive thermal efficiency, exemplified by this project’s strategic planning and choice of materials. The four-bedroom, timber-clad home faces south to receive constant daylight and cross-ventilation via operable windows and a creative lighting scheme. The clients wanted a space that could easily accommodate any future children and friends. The home features three primary zones, each of which can be completely closed off from one another to provide both internal climate control and privacy. Ideally, however, the house would stay open to the outdoors. As OLA Studio's director Phil Snowdon explains, "These [ocean] views continue to hold your attention through the other rooms, allowing the intricacies of the dwelling to slowly reveal themselves."

An Australian Beach Home with Stunning Ocean Views - Photo 1 of 8 - Operable timber shutters and screens offer protection from extreme weather. Zoning the house into three distinct masses creates a partly sheltered courtyard to make this year-round blending of the indoors and outdoors possible.

Operable timber shutters and screens offer protection from extreme weather. Zoning the house into three distinct masses creates a partly sheltered courtyard to make this year-round blending of the indoors and outdoors possible.

An Australian Beach Home with Stunning Ocean Views - Photo 2 of 8 - To reduce the home's environmental footprint, OLA installed rain water collection tanks and solar panels, which the house relies upon for water and electricity. White tile and tan travertine pool pavers mimic the color palette of the nearby beach.

To reduce the home's environmental footprint, OLA installed rain water collection tanks and solar panels, which the house relies upon for water and electricity. White tile and tan travertine pool pavers mimic the color palette of the nearby beach.

An Australian Beach Home with Stunning Ocean Views - Photo 3 of 8 - A Mood Outdoor Table by Studio Segers for Tribù is surrounded by Terra Outdoor Chairs by Bram Bollen, also for Tribù. They rest atop silvertop ash hardwood decking.

A Mood Outdoor Table by Studio Segers for Tribù is surrounded by Terra Outdoor Chairs by Bram Bollen, also for Tribù. They rest atop silvertop ash hardwood decking.

An Australian Beach Home with Stunning Ocean Views - Photo 4 of 8 - The home, clad in natural Australian timber, enjoys a sense of lightness thanks to slender columns that let it float over the dunes. The driveway and entry, at the rear of the building, have an understated design to build to the interior's magnificent ocean views. Firm director Phil Snowdon explains, "By creating an architectural form that draws your eye and leads you up the steep driveway, we could engage new visitors in a welcoming process that first reveals the object and then slowly reveals the main event, being the view."

The home, clad in natural Australian timber, enjoys a sense of lightness thanks to slender columns that let it float over the dunes. The driveway and entry, at the rear of the building, have an understated design to build to the interior's magnificent ocean views. Firm director Phil Snowdon explains, "By creating an architectural form that draws your eye and leads you up the steep driveway, we could engage new visitors in a welcoming process that first reveals the object and then slowly reveals the main event, being the view."

An Australian Beach Home with Stunning Ocean Views - Photo 5 of 8 - A granite island countertop and black American oak cabinetry are a winning combination for the utilitarian kitchen. The sleek kitchen pendant lights are Matric-P4's from Lightnet.

A granite island countertop and black American oak cabinetry are a winning combination for the utilitarian kitchen. The sleek kitchen pendant lights are Matric-P4's from Lightnet.

An Australian Beach Home with Stunning Ocean Views - Photo 6 of 8 - Immediately to the right of the entry is the main living space, which features a Jetmaster 700D wood-burning fireplace.

Immediately to the right of the entry is the main living space, which features a Jetmaster 700D wood-burning fireplace.

An Australian Beach Home with Stunning Ocean Views - Photo 7 of 8 - Snowdon calls the design of the entire house a collaborative process with the clients, who actually recycled a good deal of furniture from their previous beach house, such as the coffee table and arm chairs seen here

Snowdon calls the design of the entire house a collaborative process with the clients, who actually recycled a good deal of furniture from their previous beach house, such as the coffee table and arm chairs seen here

An Australian Beach Home with Stunning Ocean Views - Photo 8 of 8 - External shutters and screens allow the homeowners to manage the sunlight and cross ventilation in certain rooms. Manos Mavridis, also of OLA Studio, explains, "There was a preference for the screens to be manually operated to minimize ongoing maintenance costs and encourage user engagement with their environment."

External shutters and screens allow the homeowners to manage the sunlight and cross ventilation in certain rooms. Manos Mavridis, also of OLA Studio, explains, "There was a preference for the screens to be manually operated to minimize ongoing maintenance costs and encourage user engagement with their environment."