Two Houses in East Australia
Their approach sets the dwelling apart. "Our client's black box 'beach shack,' as he describes it, is a virtual anomaly in a community filled with skillion-roofed houses in yellow color schemes."
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Godwin says the firm chose plywood because of its structural qualities and resistance to termites, and because it is produced from fast-growing pine plantations. The stain applied to the wood provides a natural, earthy look that will age gracefully — "like a piece of driftwood" — unlike a painted skin that would flake and peel in time. Randomly placed vertical plywood battens bolster the plywood sheets structurally and control buckling and warping, as well as adding textural interest.
Godwin says "the salt issue" is particularly challenging: "It gets everywhere and can rust and corrode most metals." Double-dipped galvanized steelwork, both hidden and exposed, was the architects' solution throughout the house. The metal's textured finish also suits the getaway's functional aesthetic.
All windows and external doors are framed with natural anodized aluminum, an effective alternative to timber for sealing thresholds and other openings. The metal is durable, requires little or no maintenance, and will be reusable if it is ever removed.
She Oak House is grounded to its site by oversized galvanized posts that march down its sides. Large timber-clad sliding doors open into a semi-outdoor circulation corridor, which runs the house's length from front to back.
Inside, stained timber paneling and polished concrete deliver a sleek yet durable finish. The ground-level living spaces open onto a side courtyard, culminating in a dramatic outdoor room at the rear that overlooks a pool and nearby dunes. The upstairs includes simple bedrooms and bathrooms that relate to the level below through a series of voids and openings.
A double-height entry space features decking boards through which salt and sand can be hosed away. "You can take a shower en route back in from the ocean and go directly to relaxing," explains Godwin. The space also includes a concealed laundry room for wetsuits and a storage rack for surfboards.
The architects implemented passive climate-control strategies to increase comfort sustainably. "To design a place that is open and airy in the summer yet shut down against chilly southeast winter breezes is tricky," Godwin observes. Orientation, cross-ventilation, and control of solar penetration were intrinsic design considerations. Throughout the house, louvered windows aid air movement and sunshades reduce heat gain.
"While there will always be days where there is minimal natural air movement and the air conditioner is required — in both summer and reverse-cycle modes — the idea was to minimize these and reduce the carbon footprint of the house," says Godwin. "As much as possible, we wanted the house to breathe naturally."
Base Architecture also served as landscape designer. A grass-cell driveway, appropriate for the dwelling's sporadic use, adds to the casual feeling. Local land covenants dictated preferred and forbidden plant species, and a variety of hardy, drought-tolerant native varieties were selected. Rainwater is collected onsite for use in the toilets and washing machine, for topping off the swimming pool, and for minimal irrigation.
A commission to design a house for a subdivision on Brisbane's western fringe wasn't very inspiring to architect James Russell — until he saw the site.
"My clients, a couple with two young children, had superb parkland-adjacent property at the end of a cul-de-sac," Russell explains. "I knew I could create a unique residence for them that would relate to and connect two different contexts — nature to the northwest and the suburban community to the southeast."
The Sanctuary Place House exemplifies a compelling sense of place. Oriented to capture surrounding views and gentle breezes, the 275-square-meter (2,960-square-foot) residence is clad primarily in brick — a low-maintenance finish and a gesture to its neighbors. The boxy home also makes use of simple fiber cement cladding.
Clinging to its southern and eastern boundaries, the house maximizes its relationship with the adjacent parkland and offers other landscaping opportunities. Sliding doors allow it to adapt to the weather, and verandas provide sheltered outdoor space consistent with the Queensland vernacular.
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