Cinematic Suspense Meets Domestic Calmness In Fairhaven Beach House by John Wardle Architects

published in: Architecture By Yatzer, 04 January 2014

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photo © Trevor Mein.

photo © Trevor Mein.

Project name: Fairhaven Beach House
Architects: John Wardle Architects
Location: Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia
Project Team: John Wardle, Andy Wong, Diego Bekinschtein, Chloe Lanser, Robert Kolac, James Juricevich
Area: 430 sqm
Year: 2012
Photographer: Trevor Mein
Movie by Coco and Maximillian.
Builder: Spence Construction
Structural Engineer: Felicetti

photo © Trevor Mein.

Standing on top of one of the verdant hills overlooking the Bass Strait at the southernmost point of Australia’s mainland stands Fairhaven Beach House, an award-winning* residential project by the acclaimed Melbourne-based firm John Wardle Architects (*Robin Boyd Award Winner for Residential Architecture by the Australian Institute of Architecture in November 2013). Completed in 2012, the three-storey residence is located above Victoria’s coastal road, otherwise known as the Great Ocean Road that runs along a series of picturesque bays, national parks and surf beaches. Despite the daring geometry of the exterior (which even features a cantilevered study on the top floor), the house blends in beautifully with the surrounding tea tree bush land thanks to the grey-green zing that covers it, and its well-thought outline that (especially when seen from the side of the ocean) smoothly echoes the curvature and shape of the landscape. A secluded courtyard in the middle of the U-shaped structure offers privacy and protection from the prevailing sea winds.

The intention of the architects was to create an almost choreographed experience of anticipation and suspense. They describe their design process as ''akin to scenography, cutting together sensory and spatial experiences to frame the theatre of inhabitation within'', indeed finding subtle ways to give the design a cinematic twist: for example, a cavernous hallway leads from the main entrance to the living room, with asymmetrical wood-covered wall surfaces partially concealing the dramatic sea views lying beyond. As a matter of fact, the interior completely gives way to the breathtaking view (with nothing standing between you and the cinema screen-like windows), as if the house was built primarily for gazing and not for living in – which is definitely not the case, since it includes three bedrooms, a versatile kitchen and dining space that can be connected to the outside in fine weather, a study and concealed balcony on the top floor, and a wine cellar with an informal living room in the basement. Sculptural elements, like the tubular wooden handrail that snakes down the staircase, or the folds and twists of the faceted interior surfaces, add a sense of exploration and surprise, while the ever-present wood element and the darker ambience of the more private areas of the house create a feeling of domestic peace and seclusion – a sense that is also conveyed through a short video of the house created by Coco Wertheim and Maximilian Mein.

photo © Trevor Mein.

photo © Trevor Mein.

photo © Trevor Mein.

photo © Trevor Mein.

photo © Trevor Mein.

photo © Trevor Mein.

photo © Trevor Mein.

photo © Trevor Mein.

photo © Trevor Mein.

photo © Trevor Mein.

photo © Trevor Mein.

photo © Trevor Mein.

photo © Trevor Mein.

photo © Trevor Mein.

photo © Trevor Mein.

photo © Trevor Mein.

sources:

John Wardle Architects

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