The Hart House by Casey Brown Architecture is located just about 18 miles north of Sydney, Australia—but it feels worlds away. Perched on a hill overlooking Great Mackerel Beach, the home opens up to the wide expanse of ocean beyond.
Casey Brown Architecture conceived of the residence as an updated and modern version of the typical one-room Australian beach shack. It's designed as a simple box closed to all sides but one, which opens to the beach below. The building is wrapped in a protective shell made out of corrugated metal, which shelters it from the harsh salty air, cold winters, southerly winds, and brushfire-prone landscape.
Steep cliffs with abundant foliage lie above the home. Below, a series of stone terraces and steps lead down to the beach. The main level of the home consists of a single double-height space with dining, kitchen, and living areas, as well as a utility core with a bathroom and pantry. A lofted mezzanine sits above the utility core.
The wall facing the water has generous floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors that open up completely to the outside deck. Carefully placed punched windows provide passive cross ventilation to the other three sides of the home.
Large panes of glass at the clerestory level allow sunlight to brighten the room. Just off the large, double-height space lies a small studio that also looks directly out to the water. The basement level holds the bedroom with an en suite bathroom and direct access to a terrace constructed from sandstone sourced on-site.
One of the clients is a ceramicist, so Casey Brown Architecture selected the project's materials based on quality, tactility, and texture. The interior spaces are clad in birch plywood, with timber flooring and concrete benches.
The exterior and interior flooring, decking, and window and door frames are made from spotted gum—a type of eucalyptus tree commonly found in Australia that is known for its sustainability and resistance to fire.
The corrugated metal shell strikes contrast with the weathered steel door and window frames, tying in to the red hues of the spotted gum. The roof holds several solar panels and rainwater harvesting equipment, and waste is processed on-site, which gives the home a light carbon footprint.
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Architect of Record: Casey Brown Architecture
Design Architect: Rob Brown
Project Architect: Carly Martin
Engineer: SDA Structures and GK Consulting Engineers
Builder: Moneghittie BuiltBushfire
Consultant: Building Code and Bushfire Hazard Solutions
Photography: Rhys Holland