Tired of the large, cookie-cutter houses popping up across Australia, the owner of a remote stretch of coastline on Mornington Peninsula’s St Andrews Beach tapped the creative minds at Austin Maynard Architects for the antithesis of the McMansion style.
"The owner challenged us to design and build him a ‘bach’ in the dunes," the architects explain, referring to the New Zealand term for the simple and modest beach shacks that rose to prominence in the 1950s and were typically built of recycled materials.
"Regardless of how much money you’ve made, you get yourself a bach, and that bach has to be the most basic, down-to-earth thing."
To that end, the house was simplified to a circular, corridor-free design that prioritizes views of the expansive landscape in all directions.
Like its midcentury predecessors, the St Andrews Beach House is modestly sized at nearly 1,500 square feet. Centered on a spiral metal staircase, the home is split across two levels with the open-plan communal areas and service spaces on the ground floor and the informal sleeping quarters tucked upstairs.
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A wedge-shaped patio, carved into the circular floor plan, opens to the landscape to facilitate indoor/outdoor living. Bi-fold doors seamlessly connect the dining and living areas on either side to the patio and the outdoors.
"The house displays an innovative use of timber with chunky details and exposed portal frames," the architects note. "This is not a slick beach house, but a relaxed and informal escape, designed with materials that will patina and weather, like an old coastal wharf."
Self-sufficiency and sustainability have largely driven the design, from its site-sensitive footprint that measures less than 17 feet in radius to the maximization of passive solar principles throughout.
Rooftop solar panels power the fossil-free home, while a large cylindrical concrete water tank—placed near the front of road like a gateway marker—collects rainwater for reuse in the bathrooms and gardens.
"Though the building is precise, following the rigid geometry of a circle, staying here provides a complete escape from regular life," the architects add. "Not adhering to a typical layout allows you, if not forces you, to live differently."
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More by Austin Maynard Architects: An Inventive Melbourne Remodel Greets the Street With a New Garden, A Futuristic Abode in Australia Draws Inspiration From Star Wars
Builder/ General Contractor: Spence Construction
Engineer: Perret Simpson
Building surveyor: Steve Watson & Partners
Energy Consultant: Efficient Energy Choices
Land Surveyor: Steve Palmer Surveys
Photographer: Derek Swalwell
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