A Curving Coastal Home in Australia Mimics the Sweeping Landscape
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A Curving Coastal Home in Australia Mimics the Sweeping Landscape

By Alia Akkam
Tidal Arc House by Woods Bagot mirrors the undulations of the tide and landscape with its arched concrete form.

Home to fewer than 1,000 residents, the coastal town of Flinders on Australia’s Mornington Peninsula—about a 90-minute drive south of Melbourne—is the site of a dramatic, four-bedroom house by Woods Bagot that amplifies the imposing surroundings at every turn.

The roof of Tidal Arc House brings desirable morning sunrises into the home while shading it from the rest of the day's hot sun.

The roof of Tidal Arc House brings desirable morning sunrises into the home while shading it from the rest of the day's hot sun.

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Flinders is dominated by timber cottages and bungalows, but global architecture firm Woods Bagot took a bold departure from this simple vernacular. Nik Karalis, CEO of the firm and lead designer for the project, describes the three-story, 9,500-square-foot space that echoes the movement of the ocean as "a new breed of responsive design." 

Like the everyday rhythm of the tides, the home's architecture ultimately reflects the idea of movement.

Like the everyday rhythm of the tides, the home's architecture ultimately reflects the idea of movement.

Concrete gently frames the limestone exterior.

Concrete gently frames the limestone exterior.

Inspired by both the landscape and tidal movement and light, "the building curves inwards for protection and outwards to maximize views. The angle, or stepping, follows the cliff profile on the escarpment," adds Karalis. 

Three self-contained guest bedrooms are hidden behind curved, timber-lined enclosures.

Three self-contained guest bedrooms are hidden behind curved, timber-lined enclosures.

It comprises two volumes precariously stacked atop one another. Shunning right angles, this sweeping organic form bends from north to south. Natural clam shell patterns that adorn the fossilized limestone cladding "are left to sing unobstructed, as well as pay homage to the area’s Jurassic coral geology," says Karalis. 

A timber-and-stone clad staircase divides the master bedroom wing from the living space, which flows from the open south-facing deck.

A timber-and-stone clad staircase divides the master bedroom wing from the living space, which flows from the open south-facing deck.

Partnering with Cremorne, Australia, firm Hecker Guthrie and Melbourne stylist Simone Haag, Woods Bagot ensured that the interiors naturally extend from the facade, embracing limestone flooring and columns as well as concrete. For example, the subterranean level, home to the wine cellar and plant room, is built on concrete piles. Throughout the house, the concrete’s cool gray tones contrast with bright Australian sunlight. 

The upper floor living area is flooded with coastal views. In contrast, the lower level is more akin to a retreat, its trio of guest bedrooms cocooned in the sunken rear courtyard.

The upper floor living area is flooded with coastal views. In contrast, the lower level is more akin to a retreat, its trio of guest bedrooms cocooned in the sunken rear courtyard.

An over-scaled, crucifix door handle crafted from dark oak is the focal point of entrance and paves the way to more of the rich material inside, which dresses the ground-floor corridor and defines the sleeping portal containing the three guest bedrooms. Above, the upper atrium flows off to the living and dining area or master bedroom, complete with minibar. 

Charred timber adds lushness to the interiors, balanced by textural furnishings.

Charred timber adds lushness to the interiors, balanced by textural furnishings.

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"I personally enjoy the unprecedented nature of fluid space at two scales," says Nik Karalis, Woods Bagot CEO and lead designer.  "At one level, it’s majestic, and a balance to the coastal landscape. On the other, the scale is intimate, with highly crafted details of material and spatial contrast."

"I personally enjoy the unprecedented nature of fluid space at two scales," says Nik Karalis, Woods Bagot CEO and lead designer. "At one level, it’s majestic, and a balance to the coastal landscape. On the other, the scale is intimate, with highly crafted details of material and spatial contrast."

Materials like charcoal timber, ash gray marble, aged bronze, and oxidized brass set a tone of luxury, heightened by stand-out pieces including a custom wool carpet with deep loops that reference coral polyps. 

The clients wanted Woods Bagot to capture the 270-degree cone of viewing from Mushroom Reef to Phillip Island.

The clients wanted Woods Bagot to capture the 270-degree cone of viewing from Mushroom Reef to Phillip Island.

"Every part of the house has its own microclimate and vantage for enjoyment," says Karalis. "It is a composite of spaces both private and hospitable."

"Every part of the house has its own microclimate and vantage for enjoyment," says Karalis. "It is a composite of spaces both private and hospitable."

"There were neighbors nervous about privacy and losing their coastal views," says Karalis, "but the geometry of the design and the building’s placement work hard to reasonably preserve these."  

Tidal Arc House ground floor plan

Tidal Arc House ground floor plan

Tidal Arc House upper level floor plan

Tidal Arc House upper level floor plan

Tidal Arc House subterranean level floor plan.

Tidal Arc House subterranean level floor plan.

Tidal Arc House roof details

Tidal Arc House roof details

Related Reading: A Circular Beach House in Australia Embraces Coastal Living

Project Credits: 

Architect of Record: Woods Bagot / @woodsbagot

Interior Design: Hecker Guthrie and Woods Bagot

Furniture/Styling: Simone Haag

Builder/General Contractor: Remato Construction

Structural Engineer: 4D Workshop

Civil Engineer: MA Civil Design 

Landscape Design: James Ross Landscape Design 

Cabinetry Design/Installation: E&C Joinery

Stonemason: Adriatic Stone

Metalwork: Hellemann Metalworks